There are many ways to get involved with your local Democratic party. Opportunities include:
- Phone calling and door-knocking for Democratic candidates
- Being part of our Social Media Team write to email@example.com with SMT in the subject line
- Organizing fundraisers and supporting us financially
- Volunteering to serve on a committee
- Being an election judge or Precinct Rep (read our “Being a Precinct Rep FAQ” below) contact us
- Attending meetings and events especially our Annual Gala (April), Golf Outing (July) and Visibility Picnic (August)
- Helping organize and/or walk in a seasonal parade and more….
Be a Precinct Committee Representative:
The grass roots and foundation of the political parties are its precinct committeemen. They serve as the foot soldiers to the most fundamental political unit of government, the precinct. The precinct committeeman helps shape party policy and participates in the selection process of candidates. A precinct committeeman is elected to a two-year term in the even-year primary elections.
Additionally, we have access, through the Illinois Democratic County Chairs’ Association and the DNC, to a fantastic voter database which increases out voter outreach potential exponentially. Precinct Committee Reps, and those who might like to be, can find out more about this opportunity by contacting us.
Expectations of a Precinct Committee Representative (“PC”):
- Represent the party’s voters at the county central committee convention to elect the county central chairman and its officers. The precinct committeeman casts a total number of party votes, (weighted vote), as cast in the precinct at the recent primary election
- Attend and become involved in the party’s Township meetings
- Become a voter registrar and register all qualified constituents
- Appoint and fill vacancies of election judges for the precinct polling place
- Provide candidate and election information to the voters
- Circulate petitions for candidates prior to the primary election
- Become familiar with the elected officials and legislatures so the concerns of the voters can be passed on to them.
If you have questions or are interested in becoming a Precinct Committee Rep, contact us. But a short summary can be found below:
FAQ on Being A Precinct Rep
1. What is a Precinct Committee”man”?
A Precinct Committeeman (the legal term for the office) is the main liaison and relationship builder between the party and the voters in that precinct and thus one of the most vital links in the voting chain.
2. How do I become a PC?
In short, the two ways in which one becomes a PC are:
A) Being elected — The best way to become a PC is to be elected in the primary by collecting 20-30 signatures of Democratic voters in your precinct and then appearing on the ballot like other candidates. You must be a registered voter in that precinct.
B) Getting appointed–In precincts in which no one is elected, the chair of the county party organization may appoint someone to serve until the next primary; such appointees need not live in their precincts. We will be happy to help you determine your status in this regard.
3. What if there’s already a PC in my precinct?
If there is an existing committee member in your precinct, you have a few options. You can get on the ballot for the next election to run against that person, but we would only recommend doing this if you feel that the current person isn’t doing an effective job. Alternatively, you can volunteer to assist the current committee person in your own precinct, thus doubling his or her effectiveness, or you can be appointed to “loop,” i.e. work a different precinct that doesn’t have an elected committee member. Neither of these last two options will allow you to vote for party leadership, appoint election judges, etc., but you will be doing the important work of helping to elect Democrats.
4. What are the primary responsibilities?
PCs are relationship managers in their precincts. This means convincing voters to go to the polls and support good Democratic candidates, and listening to their concerns so that they can be conveyed to candidates and party leaders. There are various means through which PCs support candidates: meeting voters door-to-door, sending out letters or postcards, making phone calls, or hosting neighborhood get-togethers at their homes or nearby public places.
5. How much time will it take?
Generally not a lot. A PC might walk his or her precinct once or twice per election. Walking a precinct might take six to eight hours. You can reduce the workload by recruiting extra volunteers in your precinct; see #6..
6. Will I be working alone?
Hopefully you won’t. The most effective PCs are usually those who have recruited extra volunteers to help.
Larry Quick of the Quick ‘n Clean Foundation has put together a plan for building dynamic precinct organizations. CLICK HERE
7. Why are PCs important?
The precinct committee person is vital in getting local Democrats elected to office. In 2002, candidate Tom Berry ran against Congressman Henry Hyde, and lost in every precinct. In 2004, Christine Cegelis very nearly defeated Hyde getting close enough to force him into retirement. What made the difference? One factor was the dedicated volunteers Cegelis had in selected precincts; she won every precinct in which she had such a volunteer.
Besides working their precincts, Democratic PCs vote to elect the leadership of the county and township Democratic organizations. This is vitally important as the performance and credibility of the party leadership has a huge impact on whether Democrats get elected and respected. Elected PCs may also nominate election judges in their precincts which makes working in the polls and servicing our voters a smoother process..
8. Is there any kind of training?
Training is occasionally offered so make sure you have signed up for our email blasts . Also link into our Facebook, Twitter and or Blog to keep up on what is happening (there are links for all of these in the upper right of this and every page of this site). The Wellstone organization has a great series of informative web pieces that can give you a tremendous understanding (and excitement) for the work you are doing. Find them here.
Elected PCs serve for two years. Appointed PCs serve until the next election; they may then be re-appointed anytime after the county party convention at which the party officers are elected.
10. Why the gender-biased terminology?
“Precinct committeman” is the official name for the position, as defined by Illinois state law. Some people are working to change the name to something that isn’t gender-biased, but until this can be accomplished “precinct committeman” is the legal name. We prefer to insert the term Representative and you may do the same!