Run For Your Precinct is an educational endeavor devoted to the concept that the solution to our nation's most vital political issues lies at the precinct level.

 

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How to -
Run For Your Precinct

To our knowledge, there isn't a single state political party which seriously encourages voters to run for their precincts (a situation we'd like to help change). And for most places in the country, the details on how to run can't be found on the Internet. Nor do we think that's by happenstance (more).

So we'd very much like to post an exhaustive tabulation here showing how to run for every precinct in the nation. Unfortunately, we're not up to the task. It turns out the information is rather hard to obtain and verify in many places, even if you know what you're looking for. Not only does it differ from state to state, but often from county to county and from party to party.

Therefore, the best we can do at the present is to advise you on how to seek the information in your own locality.* It's not rocket science, but it's not child's play either. The general steps are numbered below. And please understand, they wouldn't be anywhere near as lengthy if they didn't have to accommodate so many different state arrangements. But before you go to them, allow us to extend the following general advice.

  • Be patient when seeking information, especially when speaking with government workers. It can be frustrating, and occasionally you might feel they're unwilling to answer questions. From our experience, it's usually not because they're trying to be evasive or unhelpful. Usually it's something else:
    • Often, they’re just unaccustomed to anyone asking about precincts.
    • Or there's only one person at their office that's well-informed on the precinct process.
    • Perhaps the most common problem is that you may not be using the specific terms they’re familiar with. So be flexible and make allowances.
  • Keep in mind - asking about precinct races can attract attention.
    • If you contact a local or county party to get information, there's a possibility the party's chairman might hear of it. They're often interested in learning if anyone new who is running for a precinct.
    • Also, employees at election offices can be closely connected to political parties. Word can leak out in that way.
    • If you're dead-set on maintaining a low-profile, simply keep saying, you're "just looking for information." Also, you might want to wait until the last day to file.
    • Don't forget about Caller ID. It's a bit silly trying to remain anonymous when someone's looking at your name. For that reason, it might be better to call from work.
  • All the same, we advise being open and direct in your inquiries.
    • You'll get better service if you aren't being mysterious.
    • You'll also raise fewer eyebrows.
    • Besides, if some party boss wants to recruit a government hack to run against you, let him.
      • What's the worst that could happen? You might lose the race? Big deal. You can live with that.
      • In any case, go to our "How to Campaign" page and we'll show you a cheap, effective and easy way to win in that situation.
  • Just stay focused on what you're seeking. Don't get derailed.
    • Your interest is in learning about the process of running for your precinct: that is, when to file, where to file, necessary documents, etc.
    • Be especially determined when speaking with anyone at a political party office.
    • They may presume you're calling "to volunteer" or should be. Thank them, but on this day you're calling about something else.
    • There are those who might enthusiastically offer to help you get "active" or "involved." Be alert; they may have something entirely different in mind.
    • Don't get talked into attending any seminar, presentation or workshop to learn about the process. It's not necessary, and you don't want to become a cog in anyone's political machine.
    • You only need a few facts. Obtaining them should only take a minute or so.
    • You don't need to meet with anyone or to get anyone else's approval.
    • You don't need to "get acquainted."

What to Ask

You’ll want to get answers for the questions that follow. You'll probably know the first few without asking. But as they go on, they divide into two sets, according to how your area selects its precinct men (there are two general approaches). Start by calling whatever government office handles elections and voter registration in your municipality or county. You can find that local or county office by checking in the government pages of your phone book or by doing an Internet search. It may be called the Board of Elections, or the Elections, Clerk’s or Registrars Office.

After you’ve gone as far as that office can take you, then you may need to contact your local or county party chairman. Getting a hold of them isn't generally hard, though you might have to email them first. Most state parties post information on their websites showing you how to contact this person. But for your convenience, we've compiled the appropriate party links on one of our web pages. Simply click below to reach it.

Preliminary Questions

  1. Are you presently registered to vote where you live?
  2. Are you eligible to vote in the upcoming primary election?
    • In some states, you have to enrolled so many days prior to an election.
  3. Are you currently enrolled in the party you wish to represent as a precinct man?
    • Note: many state parties prohibit anyone from running for any of their offices who voted in another party’s last primary election.
  4. What precinct do you live in?
    • What's the number or designation?
  5. Where does that precinct vote?
  6. Do other precincts vote at that same location?
  7. Does your party elect a person to represent the precinct on the primary election ballot?
    • No, it’s not on the ballot. It’s handled at special party meetings (which are sometimes referred to as conventions or “called meetings”).
      • If this is the case, please skip down to question #25.
    • Yes, the office is on the primary ballot.
      • If this is the case, please continue with question #8.
    • Yes, the office is on the primary ballot, but only if there's a contested race.
      • If this is the case, please continue with question #8.

Running in a Primary Election

In most places, precinct men are elected by direct vote on a primary election ballot (although the office is often shown on the ballot only if there are two or more people contesting for one slot). If you live in a place where precinct men are not chosen in the primary election, but instead at a party meeting, please skip down to question #25.

  1. What do they commonly call the elected party person that represents a precinct?
    • County committeeman, central committeeman, precinct leader, executive, officer, chairman, captain, delegate, representative, etc.?
  2. Is there only one person elected for your particular precinct?
    • Sometimes there are multiple precinct men.
    • The number may reflect the relative size of party votes cast in the last election.
    • If your precinct has multiple delegates, can you and your spouse both run?
  3. To what body is that precinct person elected to?
    • A local, county or state convention?
    • A standing local or county committee?
    • Or both of the above?
  4. How often is this precinct office filled?
    • Every two years?
    • Every four years?
  5. Will this precinct spot be filled in the coming primary?
    • If not, then in what year?
  6. Did anyone run for this precinct office in the last primary election?
    • If so, was it as a certified candidate (that is, one who had petitioned to be on the ballot) or was it as a write-in?
    • If someone did run, did he face opposition?
      • And if he did, was his opposition a certified candidate or a write-in?
  7. Who presently fills this precinct spot?
    • The local or county party chairman may be the only one who can answer this with certainty.
    • Be aware, someone might have been elected in the last primary, but resigned and the office was subsequently filled by an appointment.
  8. To seek this position, who do you notify and file a document with?
    • The Elections Office (or whatever it’s called)?
    • Or the local political party?
      • If it’s a party officer, then which officer?
      • Typically it’s either the chairman or secretary of the county or town party.
  9. When’s the deadline for filing?
    • If you’ve missed the filing date, you may be able to easily run as a write-in. Skip down to #21 below.
  10. Is there a filing fee or dues to be paid if elected?
    • How much?
  11. What's the name of the document you need to file?
    • Where can you get it?
    • Can it be downloaded?
  12. Is there anything special you should know about filling out the document?
    • Pay close attention to any advice or instructions.
    • These documents can contain legalese, and it’s not unusual to hear of completed papers being rejected due to mistakes.
  13. Do you need to collect petition signatures?
    • If so, how many?
    • Must signers be voters residing within your precinct?
    • Can petition signers be voters who aren’t declared party members (independents)?
  14. If you’ve missed the filing date, is there a way to run as a write-in candidate?
    • If yes, is there a document you need to file to run as one?
      • What's the document called?
      • Where can you get it?
      • Can it be downloaded?
      • Is there a fee to run as a write-in?
  15. Can the Elections Office (or whatever it’s called in your area) supply a precinct voters list showing party registration?
    • Often called a “precinct walking list.”
      • If yes, then how can you obtain one?
  16. Can unaligned voters (independents) vote in the primary election?
  17. Can vacant precincts be filled by party appointments after the election?
 

Running in a "Called Meeting" or Convention

In some states and areas, precinct men aren’t elected by direct vote on a primary election ballot. Instead, they're elected at a special party meeting open to all members. At this municipal or county meeting, attendees for each precinct (often there’s only one or none) have the opportunity to elect one or more precinct representatives.

  1. In your area, what is this meeting commonly referred to as?
    • Caucus?
    • Convention?
    • Called Meeting?
  2. How often is it held?
    • Every year?
    • Every two years?
    • Every four years?
  3. Is the meeting held this year?
    • If yes, then when is it scheduled?
    • Is that before or after the primary election?
  4. Where will it be held?
  5. Is there a fee or dues to be paid for attending or for representing a precinct?
  6. Do you need to file paperwork prior to the meeting in order to attend?
  7. What happens at this meeting?
    • How do they elect precinct representatives?
    • Roughly how long is the meeting?
    • At what point in the meeting is the election of precinct delegates handled?
      • Are all those who aren't elected as precinct delegates then excused from attendance?
  8. What’s the common term for the person that’s elected to represent a precinct within a party?
    • County committeeman, central committeeman, precinct leader, executive, officer, chairman, captain, delegate, representative, etc.?
  9. Is there only one delegate elected per precinct?
    • Sometimes there are multiple precinct men.
    • The number may reflect the relative size of party votes cast in the last election.
    • If your precinct has multiple delegates, can you and your spouse both run?
  10. Did anyone run for this precinct in the last held meeting (or convention)?
    • If so, did he face opposition?
  11. What is that precinct person elected to?
    • To attend another, higher level convention or meeting?
    • To serve as a member of a standing local or county committee?
    • Or both of the above?
  12. Do those who aren’t elected to the next level meet any further as a standing committee?
    • Usually it’s optional, at the discretion of the elected town or county chairman.
  13. Are there any other standing committees that precinct delegates serve in?
  14. Can registered party members be voted by proxy at the meeting? (This is seldom permitted, but exceptions might be made for military or medical reasons.)
    • How is it done?
    • Is there a special proxy document?
    • Where can it be obtained or downloaded?
    • Is there a limit to how many proxy votes one person can vote for others?
  15. Can the Elections Office (or whatever it’s called in your area) supply a precinct voters list showing party registration?
    • Often called a “precinct walking list.”
      • If yes, then how can you obtain one?
  16. Can nonaligned voters (independents) attend and vote in the meeting?
  17. Are vacant precincts filled by appointments?
    • If so, does this happen at the meeting, or at another one?
    • If this meeting elects precinct representatives to a higher-level caucus or convention, can (and will) the empty precinct slots be filled by appointment?

* We compiled the above questions after speaking with individuals in a good number of states. But we realize there may be some states or counties where our suggested questions simply don't hold up. If you should be aware of such a place, and can supply us with the correct information, then by all means, please let us know. We'll adapt our suggestions accordingly. Contact us at comment@RunForYourPrecinct.org.