Precinct Chair Training, Part 3

Precinct Convention Procedures

Prepared by the Rules Committee of the Bexar County Democratic Party
Return to Bexar County Democratic Homepage

New! Updated with important clarifications issued by the Texas Democratic Party after a thorough study of the Texas Election Code
The updates here are based on two sources: click here for procedures on handling provisional participants, and click here for answers to other FAQs.
The entire content of these two memoranda is shown below, in red, and designated with an asterisk * except where the update would duplicate information that was already stated below.

Preparation: what to do before the convention
Eighteen steps for conducting the precinct convention
Practical exercises in calculation (the math part!)
Resolutions: a few resources
Solutions to the practical exercises

Return to Part 1: Building and Training Your Precinct Team

Return to Part 2: Using the Voter Activation Network (VAN)




Preparation: what to do before the convention
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Eighteen steps for conducting the precinct convention

(If you need help during the precinct convention, you can call the Texas Democratic Party hotline at 1-800-336-3254.)

STEP ONE STEP TWO
Minutes Step 1

Minutes Step 2

STEP THREE
Minutes Step 3

STEP FOUR
Minutes Step 4

STEP FIVE
STEP SIX
Minutes Step 6

STEP SEVEN
STEP EIGHT
Minutes Step 8

STEP NINE
Minutes Step 9

STEP TEN
Minutes Step 10

STEP ELEVEN (Worksheet)
(Total # attending convention) / (Delegates to which your precinct is entitled)      MUST ROUND UP

Line 1
         
Enter number of people attending your convention (from Exhibit A sign-in sheet). 
This is the number that was announced by the Chair and accepted by the convention.
Line 2

Enter number of delegates to the SD convention (or county convention) to which your precinct is entitled. 
This will be on the front of the packet.
Line 3

Divide Line 1 by Line 2, extending to two decimal places.
Line 4

If Line 3 is not a whole number, round UP to the next whole number. 
This is the number of people required to make a caucus.
STEP TWELVE
Minutes Step 12
STEP THIRTEEN
(Total # in caucus) / (Total # at Precinct Convention) x (Total # of SD or County Delegates to which precinct is entitled)      MUST ROUND DOWN



Clinton
Obama
Uncommitted
Total
Line 1
Enter the total number of eligible people signed in for each CAUCUS




Line 2
Enter the total number of eligible participants at CONVENTION




Line 3
% of convention (divide Line 1 by Line 2)




Line 4
Enter total number of delegates to which your precinct is entitled
(from the front of the packet)




Line 5
Multiply Line 3 by Line 4 (the percentage times the number of delegates allotted)
This is the raw number of delegates for this caucus.
Be sure to show fractions or decimals!




Line 6
If the number in Line 5 is not a whole number, then you must ROUND DOWN




Line 7
Add up the number of assigned delegates in Line 6.  If the Total column is greater
than the total of delegates assigned for each preference, then the additional
delegate goes to the preference with the highest fraction or decimal.




Line 8
Add up the final total for each caucus. 
Be sure it all adds up to the total on the front of the packet.




STEP FOURTEEN
Minutes Step 14
STEP FIFTEEN
Minutes Step 15

Minutes Step 15a
STEP SIXTEEN
Minutes Step 16

STEP SEVENTEEN
Minutes Step 17

STEP EIGHTEEN

Minutes Step 18

IMMEDIATELY AFTER THE CONVENTION

Practical exercises in calculation (the math part!)


Answers for Situation #1
 




The final delegate counts are... Clinton: ______        Obama: ______        Uncommitted: ______        Total: ______

Answers for Situation #2





Answers for Situation #3





Would you, as chair
  1. Do a complete re-vote of the caucus?
  2. Downgrade Bob to alternate despite his objections, and promote Harriet to delegate?
  3. Draw cards among the three male delegates and the loser steps down?
  4. Ask the whole precinct convention to solve the problem?
  5. Hire a lawyer and sue someone?  If so, who?
  6. Invite Harriet to change her vote?
  7. Say that the "delegation" in this case means the whole precinct delegation?  In that case two female delegates out of the precinct's six fits the one-third rule, and if the Clinton caucus chose two men you will force the Clinton caucus to choose one woman instead.
  8. Write up the delegation as is and tell Harriet she can object to the Senatorial District convention's credentials committee?
  9. Resign as chair and run away?
Answers for Situation #4

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Resolutions: a few resources
  • Purposes of a resolution
    1. To memorialize someone recently deceased.
    2. To congratulate a person or group.
    3. To amend the Rules of the Texas Democratic Party (TDP).
    4. To amend the TDP Platform.
    5. To urge Democratic elected officials, especially in the Texas Legislature and the U.S. Congress, to advocate certain positions on policy issues.  As the delegates assembled at the state convention are the highest authority within the TDP, such resolutions should carry weight with elected officials as the consensus of the grassroots of the party.
  • Structure of a resolution
    1. Give the resolution a title that indicates not merely the topic, but also the position to be advocated (i.e., instead of "Resolution on Vouchers for Texas Schools," it would be better to put "Resolution Opposing Vouchers for Texas Schools").
    2. List the reasons for the resolution at the beginning, each reason being in a separate paragraph beginning with the word "whereas" (capitalized, italicized or in boldface).
    3. List each action to be taken in separate paragraphs introduced by the words "be it resolved" (capitalized, italicized or in boldface).
    4. Use semicolons to separate each paragraph, and avoid periods.  A well-written resolution should consist grammatically of a single sentence.
    5. Keep the resolution brief.  It should fit easily on a single page.
    6. At the end of the resolution, write: "Submitted to and Adopted by Precinct ___ in ____ County, Texas, Senatorial District ___, on March 4, 2008" and leave a signature line for the precinct convention secretary, who will sign it if the precinct convention adopts the resolution.
  • For information on building support for your resolution statewide to increase its chance of success, click here
  • For the process by which resolutions move forward after the precinct convention, click here for a guide that summarizes the TDP Rules.
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Solutions to the practical exercises

  • Answer #1
    • You are chair of the precinct convention, Precint 5001.  Precinct 5001 is entitled to send 6 delegates (and 6 alternates) to the 32nd Senatorial District convention.
    • At 7:15 p.m. your precinct has 17 Democrats signed in: 7 sign in for Clinton, 6 sign in for Obama, 2 sign in for Edwards, 2 sign in Uncommitted.
    • Q1A.  Which groups are entitled to caucus and select delegates and alternates, and why?
      • The number of people necessary to qualify is _17/6 rounded up________.
17/6 = 2.83 [that's 2 and 5/6ths] so a caucus needs three delegates.

Neither the Edwards nor the Uncommitted caucuses qualify, so only the Clinton and Obama caucuses select delegates.

Therefore the Edwards and Uncommitted people must join another caucus.
    • Situation continued.  Of the Edwards and Uncommitted people, 1 goes to the Clinton caucusm and 3 go to the Obama caucus.
    • Q1B.  How many delegates and alternates does each caucus select according to the proportional formula?
The Clinton caucus is now 8 people.
8/17 x 6 rounded down = 2.82, rounded down = 2 delegates (and 2 alternates).

The Obama caucus is now 9 people.
9/17 x 6 rounded down = 3.176, rounded down = 3 delegates (and 3 alternates).

That's 2 for Clinton, 3 for Obama, and 1 to be chosen by the caucus with the largest fractional remainder.
    • Q1C.  What happens to the 6th delegate and 6th alternate?
The 6th delegate (and 6th alternate) is chosen by the largest fractional remainder. 
The remainders are 0.82 for Clinton, 0.176 for Obama.  So Clinton gets the 6th delegate.

The final count is Clinton 3, Obama 3, total = 6 delegates.


Continue with Situation #2
26/10 = 2.6, which rounds up to 3, so a caucus needs three delegates.

All three caucuses (Clinton, Obama, Uncommitted) will select delegates.
The Clinton caucus is 11 people.
11/26 x 10 rounded down = 4.23, rounded down = 4 delegates (and 4 alternates).

The Obama caucus is 10 people.
10/26 x 10 rounded down = 3.85, rounded down = 3 delegates (and 3 alternates).

The uncommitted caucus is 5 people.
5/26 x 10 rounded down = 1.92, rounded down = 1 delegate (and 1 alternate).

So far that's 4 for Clinton, 3 for Obama, 1 uncommitted, and 2 to be chosen by the caucuses with the largest fractional remainders.

The remainders are .23 for Clinton, .85 for Obama, .92 for Uncommitted.

The 9th delegate and alternate are chosen by the Uncommitted caucus.
The 10th delegate and alternate are chosen by the Obama caucus.

The final delegate counts are... Clinton: ___4__        Obama: ___4__        Uncommitted: ___2__        Total: __10__

Continue with Situation #3
3/4 = 0.75, which rounds up to 1, so a caucus needs one delegate.

The Clinton, Obama and Uncommitted caucuses each get to select delegates.
The Clinton caucus is 1 person.
1/3 x 4 rounded down = 1.33, rounded down = 1 delegate (and 1 alternate).

The Obama caucus is 1 person.
1/3 x 4 rounded down = 1.33, rounded down = 1 delegate (and 1 alternate).

The Uncommitted caucus is 1 person.
1/3 x 4 rounded down = 1.33, rounded down = 1 delegate (and 1 alternate).

So far that's 1 for Clinton, 1 for Obama, 1 uncommitted, which leaves 1 to be chosen.
The remainders are equal, all .33, so you use a chance method to decide which caucus selects the last delegate.  Draw straws or cards.  Don't use tests of skill or strength.  Or you could do an at-large election.  It's the caucus's choice.

Even though there is no one present to be the 4th delegate, this is not a useless academic exercise, because the winning caucus could name as a delegate a friend who is not present.
Because they arrived after the allocation of delegates to each caucus was announced, you do not recalculate it (TDP Rules, IV.B.6.b).  The three people who have signed in for Clinton will elect one delegate and one alternate, while the one person who signed in for Obama will also elect one delegate and one alternate.

Continue with Situation #4
Four votes, one for each delegate position.
There are no secret ballots in Democratic Party conventions.  Signed written ballots, yes; secret ballots, no.
The votes cast add up to:
Alberto: 8
Bob: 3
Carlos: 5
Delia: 10
Elizabeth: 1
Frederick: 3
George: 0
Harriet: 3
Ian: 3

Check the total: 36 votes.

Rank the candidates by votes received, and the top four are delegates, while the next four are alternates.
Delia: 10, delegate
Alberto: 8, delegtate
Carlos: 5, delegate
Bob: 3, tied
Harriet: 3, tied
Frederick: 3, tied
Ian: 3, tied
Elizabeth: 1, alternate
George: 0, not going to the convention

The tie for the 4th delegate slot must be broken by drawing cards or straws, flipping coins, etc.  If Bob wins the draw then Harriet, Frederick, and Ian are all alternates.
The rule (see Texas Democratic Party rules, section IV.a.9.b) is that at each level the delegation should contain at least one-third of each sex, so the "half" statement is wrong.
But one of four is less than one-third.  So the caucus has a problem here.
Harriet actually has a leg to stand on, although her own votes for Carlos and Ian are part of the problem.

There is no official procedure for correcting this problem.

Would you, as chair
  1. Do a complete re-vote of the caucus?
  2. Downgrade Bob to alternate despite his objections, and promote Harriet to delegate?
  3. Draw cards among the three male delegates and the loser steps down?
  4. Ask the whole precinct convention to solve the problem?
  5. Hire a lawyer and sue someone?  If so, who?
  6. Invite Harriet to change her vote?
  7. Say that the "delegation" in this case means the whole precinct delegation?  In that case two female delegates out of the precinct's six fits the one-third rule, and if the Clinton caucus chose two men you will force the Clinton caucus to choose one woman instead.
  8. Write up the delegation as is and tell Harriet she can object to the Senatorial District convention's credentials committee?
  9. Resign as chair and run away?
Option 4 is not in the best interest of the Obama caucus.  They should not invite the rest of the convention to solve this problem.
Option 7 is contrary to TDP rules.  Even within a caucus, the elected delegation should reflect gender equity.
Options 1 and 6 are the most reasonable.
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