How To Vote in the 2019 DSA Convention Delegate Elections

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Twin Cities DSA will be having a special meeting – dare I say A Very Special Meeting – on Saturday, June 8, 2019. This will be your only opportunity to help choose who represents us at the upcoming DSA Convention in Atlanta, GA on August 2 through 4. If you’re a candidate (and thanks for running, if you are) this will be a good opportunity to meet with members and garner a few last minute votes. Here is what you need to know in order to participate in this vital process.

We (meaning some of the Steering Committee, some of the Ops Committee, and a few non-candidate volunteers including myself) are working to ensure there are multiple ways for candidates to get their messages out to member-voters. Here are five ways that either are already in place or will be soon:

  • The first way, which candidates can do right now, doesn’t involve chapter resources or media. Candidates are always free to just reach out to their existing friends, close comrades, or fellow Branch or working group members and ask for votes. Explain why you’re running, what you hope to accomplish. Use your campaign as an organizing tool by engaging in dialogue about what they want you to accomplish. Also, use it as a practice run for some day running for city council, state rep, or whatever. (Or DSA leadership.)
  • Candidate statements have been published on the chapter website. If you’re a candidate, you will have submitted a statement with your application. If you want to change it at any time, reach out to the Operations committee in #operations on Slack.
  • Also on June 5 at 8:00 pm, there will be an online candidates’ Q&A panel, using the chapter Zoom account. We created a very short list of open ended questions (three) which will be given to candidates before the panel, and there will also be some opportunity for members to submit questions. For member/voters, the Zoom will recorded for later streaming if you miss the time. Members can access the Zoom candidate panel here.
  • Another similar panel will be held at the June 8 voting meeting, before the social, at approximately 12:15 to 2:00 pm. This one will not be recorded, since voting will be over at 4:30 pm. There may be another opportunity for members to ask additional questions, depending on how many candidates participate.
  • Finally, the social part of the afternoon on June 8 is designed to give candidates and voters a last chance to meet and talk in a mostly unstructured way. This will be approximately from 2:30 to 4:30 pm, when the polls will close. There will be a genuine In the Heart of the Beast bartender on duty for beer, wine and snaxis. (Cash bar, so bring money if you want to indulge.)

Note that candidates are not required to do any of the above, and not prevented from doing all of them. But it’s probably to a candidate’s advantage to do as many as they can. The list of pre- nominated candidates is on the website now, so take a look, read the statements and start thinking now about who you’re voting for.

Also on the website is a document of Rules for the election process. This covers things that have occurred already like the nomination process but is mostly about the rules that will govern the process on June 8. Here is the TL;DR version:

  • If you want to run, but have missed the June 1 deadline, go ahead and fill in the form, and print it out. Attend the June 8 meeting and before the candidate panel begins, the chair will ask if there are any further nominations. You may rise and nominate yourself at this point. If you can’t attend the June 8 meeting, give a comrade who is also a paid-up member your nomination form and they can rise and nominate you at the meeting.
  • If you just decide at the last minute to nominate yourself and have not even filled in a form, you can still nominate yourself at the meeting. But in any case, the chair will just ask three times, and then will close nominations. After that, it really is too late.
  • The polling station will be located at the back of the theatre, just inside the door farthest from the entrance. The near door will be used to pass from the lobby to the theatre or vice-versa, and the far door will only be used for voting or the accessible restroom. The polling station will be staffed by at least one person at all times from noon to 4:30 pm.
  • Ballots will be printed with names of all the pre-nominated candidates. There will be two blank lines in case of late nominations. At the check-in table, you will receive your ballot.
  • The ballots are sequentially numbered then randomized to prevent fraud. When you sign in, you must copy the number on the ballot next to your name. (The tellers who count the ballots will not see the sign-in sheets, so a secret ballot is maintained.)
  • If you don’t have time for either the candidate panel or the social, you can do a drive-by vote (almost). Just come in and register, get your ballot, fill it out and drop it at the polling station.
  • You may vote for up to 19 delegates. This is not ranked choice, so just darken the circle or put a legible mark in it to vote for a candidate.
  • The most important thing you must know about voting is – don’t overvote! If you appear to have voted for 20 or more candidates, this is a spoiled ballot and will not be counted at all. Writing in names of people not nominated will be ignored. Undervoting is OK. But don’t go over 19!  
  • Counting will begin after we leave the theatre, probably at the office. The top 19 vote-getters will be elected. If there is a tie for position 19 between two candidates, the winner will be chosen by a coin toss. In the unlikely event there is a more than two-way tie, it will be decided by drawing straws.
  • Any candidate who does not make the count to be elected delegate may be an alternate if they so choose, up to 19 alternates. Also, if a candidate is in the top 19, but prefers to be an alternate, the next highest vote-getter will move up to delegate.  If a candidate states that they are running for alternate, you can simply not vote for them, because they can be an alternate no matter how few votes they get. But if you do vote for someone running as alternate, still only vote for 19 candidates or fewer, because there’s no way to explicitly vote “for alternate” and if you overvote, all your votes are lost.   

And that’s it! That’s how we’ll elect our delegates. Results will be announced on the website and social media as soon as possible. Then comes the fun part – raising the money to get them all to Atlanta.

Deb R.

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