Bernie Sanders is running for President as a Democrat. Unfortunately, there are also some other candidates seeking the nomination of the Democratic Party for President of the United States. The final decision for who should be the Democratic candidate will be made at the Democratic Party National Convention which will be held on July 25 to 28 in Philadelphia by a majority vote of delegates to the national convention. These delegates will also decide on the Democratic Party Platform. Here is what it looked like at the 2008 Democratic Party National Convention:
For the 2016 Democratic Party National Convention, there will be 3200 national delegates divided up among the 50 states by population. There will also be 1,800 reserved delegates for Democratic Party leaders such as Governors, Members of Congress and other elected officials. So the total number of delegates will be about 5,000. The State of Washington, which is an average size state will get 103 delegates and 7 alternates with 56 delegates chosen at caucuses in Washington state and 47 slots given to Washington state party leaders and delegates representing various groups in the Democratic party. Here is a picture of the Washington state delegation at the 2012 Democratic Party National Convention.
How the Washington State Democratic Party will Chose Our 56 Congressional District Delegates to the National Convention
Some states hold primaries or statewide elections to decide how many delegates a candidate is given while other states hold caucuses where registered voters attend local community meetings to vote to be delegates for their preferred candidate. Washington is a caucus state. This means that the Presidential candidate who gets the most supporters to attend Democratic Party Precinct caucuses will get the most delegates to the National Convention. Here is an explanation of the benefits of a caucus system from the Chair of the Washington State Democratic Party Jaxon Ravens: “Washington State Democrats have a strong history of using the caucus system to pick their delegates to the Democratic National Convention. It encourages more active participation, with Democrats across the state showing up to caucuses and talking with their friends and neighbors about our Presidential candidates. We look forward to hosting the caucuses next year.” This is a link to a PDF of the Delegate Selection Plan that was approved by the Washington State Democrats on March 14 2015. http://www.wa-democrats.org/sites/wadems/files/2016%20DSAAP%20-%20Washington%20State.pdf
Three Steps to Becoming a National Delegate for Bernie Sanders
The caucuses occur in a series of steps with the most important caucuses being the local community caucuses which are called Precinct Caucuses.
Step 1: Attend your local Precinct Caucus on Saturday March 26 2016
A precinct is an official subdivision of a community with each precinct having about 400 to 1000 registered voters. Thus, a small town like North Bend with 10,000 registered voters might have only 10 precincts whereas a large densely populated city like Seattle has several hundred precincts. The precinct caucuses will be held in Washington state on Saturday March 26 2016 beginning at 10 am. Any citizen of Washington state who will be eligible to vote in the 2016 General Election is allowed to participate and vote in these precinct caucuses. You do not have to be a paid member of the Democratic Party. Even if you are not yet a registered voter, you can register to vote at your local caucus meeting and then vote for the candidate of your choice in your local precinct.
How to Determine What Precinct andLegislative District You Live In
If you are already a registered voter, your precinct is listed on your voter registration card. You can go online to the following link to determine both your precinct and your legislative district (which is the second step in the caucus process). Going to this link can also help you determine if you are already registered to vote. https://www.sos.wa.gov/elections/myvote/
Enter your first and last name and date of birth. Then click Continue. The screen will then display your Precinct Name and Precinct Number. Click on the “My districts” box in the side menu to see what Legislative District you live in and what Congressional District you live in.
At the Precinct Caucus, you will be asked to sign a form stating the following:
“I am a registered voter in the precinct named above. I consider myself to be a Democrat and I agree that my attendance at this caucus is a matter of public record”.
There is no cost to participate in any caucus. If you are working that day and unable to attend the precinct caucus, you can get a form allowing someone else to vote for you. The caucus will likely be held at a public school which is in your community. If there are 10 precincts in your community, there may be 5 meeting at one school and 5 meeting at a different school. Be early to the meeting in case the caucus location for your precinct is not where you think it is. Being early is also useful for finding a parking space near the school.
How to Win at the Precinct Caucus
Once at the caucus, you will first register for the caucus. There will likely be a long line. Be patient as the caucus is run by volunteers. You will then be given a card and directed to the room or table where your precinct is meeting. There may only be five other people from your precinct at this caucus. Or there may be 50 people there. If your precinct has a Precinct Committee Officer, or PCO, the PCO will call the Precinct Caucus to order. If there is no PCO for your precinct (which is true in over half of all precincts), then the group may elect someone to lead the caucus meeting. The leader of the caucus meeting appoints a secretary to take notes about what happened at the caucus meeting.
In any case, introduce yourself to other folks at your precinct caucus. You do not need to run for the next level to participate in the caucus. You can attend the caucus just to vote for someone else willing to go to the next level who supports the same Presidential candidate that you do.
If you are running to be a delegate to the next level, which is the Legislative District or LD caucus, you might want to bring some one-page fliers explaining who you are, which Presidential candidate you are supporting, why you support them and why folks should vote for you to be one of their delegates to the next level.
Another strategy for winning at the precinct caucus is to bring several of your neighbors with you to the caucus meeting so that they can vote for you. Hopefully, they will support the same Presidential candidate that you support.
Another strategy to win at the precinct and legislative district caucus is to start attending the monthly meetings of your Legislative District Democrats. These are typically held once a month on a week night from 7 to 9 pm. If there is no “Precinct Committee Officer” or PCO for your precinct, you can volunteer to be your precinct PCO. If there is already an elected or appointed PCO for your precinct, you can and should volunteer to be a PCO for a neighboring precinct. Your goal in attending these meetings is to get to know the other members of the Democratic Party in your legislative district. At some point, you may be asking them to vote for you or you may have to chose one of them to vote for. The more people you know, the better your chances are of moving up through the delegate selection process.
There are 49 legislative districts in Washington state:
Here is a map of the Legislative Districts in the Puget Sound region.
To find out the meeting dates and times for your Legislative District, go to the website for your County Democratic party organization or search for a website or Facebook page for your Legislative District Democrats. Below is a list of monthly meeting times and locations for all Legislative Districts in King County:
At the monthly meeting, you can find out whether there is a PCO for your precinct and apply to be a PCO for your precinct or a neighboring precinct. All it takes is a vote of the membership and you will be added to the PCO list.
Another strategy to win at the delegate selection process is to volunteer with your local group for the Presidential candidate you prefer. The more active you have been in the campaign in the months before the Precinct Caucus, the more likely you are to convince others to vote for you at your precinct caucus.
The first order of business at a caucus meeting is consideration of resolutions to be brought to the County Chair for consideration at the county convention. Some of these resolutions could eventually become part of the State or National Democratic Party platform.
The second order of business is election of delegates to the Legislative District Caucus and County Convention. After giving attendees time to discuss the candidates and issues at the precinct caucus, some may split into groups based on the Presidential Candidate they support. If there are a lot of presidential candidates, there may be several groups as well as groups of undecided attendees. These groups may decide among themselves who they will be voting for.
They are usually looking for the most active supporters of the Presidential candidate they prefer. The first vote will be for Presidential candidates. Any Presidential candidate receiving less than 15% of the vote is eliminated from consideration and their supporters are allowed to re-caste their votes for a Presidential candidate that got more than 15% of the vote. This vote determines the ratio of delegates assigned to each Presidential candidate.
For example, if two Presidential candidates have an equal number of supporters, each may have some delegates moving on to the next level. For example, if there are 20 voters in your precinct who show up and want to support Hillary Clinton and 20 voters who want to support Bernie Sanders and your precinct is entitled to 6 delegates to the next level, then the Hillary supporters will get to elect three delegates and the Bernie supporters will get to elect three delegates from that precinct.
The next vote is for delegates for each Presidential candidate. You are allowed to vote for yourself. Attendees with the most votes will get to move on to the next level. Depending on the number of registered voters in your precinct and/or the number of votes in your Precinct for Barack Obama in the 2012 election, your precinct caucus could elect more than one person to represent your precinct - although an effort is made to elect an equal number of men and women delegates. The general rule is that your precinct will get one delegate for every 75 votes for Barack Obama in the 2012 election. So a heavily Democratic Precinct in Seattle that recorded 750 votes for Obama in the 2012 election would get 10 delegates to the next level while a heavily Republican District in Eastern Washington that only got 150 votes for Obama in the 2012 election would only get 2 delegates to the next level. A typical precinct in a swing district will get to elect about 6 delegates to move on to the LD level. You will told at the beginning of the Precinct Caucus how many delegates your precinct is entitled to elect.
If you get enough votes, you will be given a card before you leave this meeting with the date and location of the Legislative District meeting. Keep this card and do not lose it. It is your voting credentials for the next level.
Also, there will be an election of delegates to the County Convention. If you get enough votes, you will also be given a Credential to vote at the County Convention. The county Conventions will be held on Sunday May 1st 2016 starting at 1 pm. Do not forget to bring your credential. The County Convention does not select delegates. But it does vote on the county platform and on important resolutions to be brought to the state meeting.
Step 2: How to Win at the Legislative District Caucus Sunday April 17 2016 starting at 1 pm
A legislative district caucus is much different than a Precinct Caucus. For one thing, there will be a lot more people there as each legislative district has more than 100 precincts. So expect to see more than 200 people at the LD Caucus. Since there are only 56 Congressional District caucus delegates for the entire state of Washington and there are 49 legislative districts, ultimately there will only be one elected delegate from each legislative district. However, because the final selection does not occur until the Congressional District Caucuses, each Legislative District will actually send several delegates to the next level which is the Congressional District Caucus.
You do not have to run for the next level to attend the LD caucus. In fact, you do not even have to be elected as a Precinct delegate at your Precinct Caucus to attend and run for the next level at the LD caucus! You do need to be elected at the Precinct Caucus in order to VOTE at the LD Caucus and as a practical matter, it is unlikely that those not elected at the Precinct Caucus will win election at the LD Caucus. You can go to the LD caucus with a goal of voting for other delegates who support the same candidate you do. If you would like to be elected to move up to the next level, it is almost essential that you bring a one-page flier listing your accomplishments for the campaign and why the other delegates should vote for you to represent them at the Congressional Caucus.
Also, at most LD Caucuses, those wishing to be elected to move on will be given a chance to give a one minute speech on why they support their Presidential candidate and why others should vote for them. You should practice your speech ahead of time. There will be a timer so be sure to limit the length of your speech. It is typical that out of 200 Precinct Delegates attending an LD caucus, about half will want to run for the next level. This will mean that there could be 200 one minute speeches – which may take a couple of hours! Take notes during these speeches for who you want to vote for as you will get to vote for about 20 of them.
Step 3: How to Win at the Congressional District Caucus Saturday May 21 2016 (Time and place to be determined).
If you get enough votes at the LD Caucus, you will get to attend the Congressional District (or CD) Caucus. Washington has 10 Congressional Districts meaning that each CD has about 5 Legislative Districts. So if there are 20 delegates from each LD, then there will be about 100 delegates at the Congressional District caucus. Only about half of them will want to run to be State Delegates. Each candidate will likely be given 2 minutes in which to give their speech. So be prepared to listen to another two hours of speeches. Write down the names of the candidates you want to vote for. The number of candidates you will get to vote for will vary from one Congressional District to the next depending on how strong that CD has voted for Democrats in past elections (See Chart Below). If you want to run to be a State Delegate, you not only will need a flier listing your accomplishments but also you will likely need to send a letter to all of the other Congressional Delegates explaining why they should vote for you. 200 letters or post cards will run $100 to $200. If you are elected to be a state delegate, you should consider how you will pay for your airfare to Philadelphia!
The reason the 7th Congressional District gets to elect more delegates than the other Congressional Districts is that they have a huge number of Democrats who live in Seattle. By contrast, the 4th Congressional District in Eastern Washington does not have as many Democrats so they get fewer delegates.
Washington Democratic Party State Convention Saturday June 18 2016 9 am in Tacoma
Note that you do not need to be an elected delegate to attend the State Convention – but you do need to be elected in order to vote for the national delegates. There will be 1,400 elected delegates and 700 elected alternates to the State Convention. This is about 140 delegates and 70 alternates from each Congressional District or 28 elected delegates from each legislative district. The number will carry depending on the number of Democratic voters in that District.
Also you do not need to be a National Delegate to attend the National Convention. However, you do need to be an elected National Delegate in order to vote for who will be the next Democratic Nominee for President of the United States. As we noted earlier, there will be 5,000 National Delegates and Bernie Sanders will need to get at least 2,500 votes in order to be the Democratic Nominee. Perhaps you can be one of those 2,500 votes.
Feel free to email me. My name is David Spring, my email address is springforschools(at) aol (dot) com. I am the Precinct Committee Officer for Twin Peaks Precinct in North Bend and on March 26 2016 at my Precinct Caucus, I will be running to be a Bernie Delegate to the 5th LD Caucus. I am hoping that other Bernie Sanders supporters will show up at our Precinct Caucus and vote for me.