The County Convention Explained

7 mins read

Pursuant to the rules and bylaws of the Washtenaw County Democratic Party (WCDP) and the Michigan Democratic Party (MDP), the WCDP will hold its Fall County Convention at 7 p.m. on Monday, November 28 via Zoom. Here’s the registration link. Please register early!

This email explains the who, what, why and how of the convention and what happens afterward.

Who is concerned?

All members of the Michigan Democratic Party who reside in Washtenaw County (that makes you a member of the Washtenaw Democratic Party), and all Democratic nominees for county-level offices, the state legislature, and US Congress from the most recent primary.

Please note that “MDP members” does not mean volunteers or Democratic voters but specifically those who have joined the MDP on or before October 28, 2022 or who qualify because they were Democratic candidates or elected as Democrats to office, including precinct delegates. If you are unsure of your membership status, contact WCDP Chair Chris Savage by email at or by text/phone at 734-358-9276.

Why now?

MDP rules require the County Convention to happen within twenty days of the general election. Call to Convention is the name of the official announcement. The Call to Convention went out on October 12 and can be found here.

What happens at the convention?

MDP members will elect the 2023-2024 WCDP County Committee and consider these changes to our bylaws proposed by the current Executive Board. 

Our bylaws state that the County Committee is composed of two groups. The first group is all Democratic nominees for county-level offices, the state legislature, and US Congress from the most recent primary. This year, there are 24 members of that first group. The second group is twice as large as the first (so, 48 members) and is composed of members representing all areas of the county. This group is elected by their peers during the County Convention. 
We will use the 15 county areas identified for precinct organizing to elect members to the County Committee. The number of County Committee seats for each area is determined by the number of votes for Secretary of State cast in that area in the 2022 election. This document details allocation for the 2023-2024 County Committee seats.

What does the County Committee do?

The County Committee is responsible for selecting, advising, and supporting the Executive Board. (The Executive Board is composed of the two co-chairs of every standing committee, plus the Chair, Vice Chair, Treasurer, Secretary, and Black Caucus Chair. These are the people who run the day-to-day operations of the WCDP.) The County Committee is also responsible for approving the WCDP’s budget and reviewing expenditures.

How often do they meet?

The County Committee meets a minimum of four times per year. It can only act if 1/3 of the members (called a quorum) are present. Since the Chair, Vice-Chair, Secretary, and Treasurer have voting rights on the Committee, a quorum is 76/3 = 26 members.

What is the process?

The credentialed voters gather in groups based on the organizing area they vote in. As explained above, each area receives a number of spots on the County Committee determined by the number of the votes cast in that area for Secretary of State in 2022. This document details allocation for the 2023-2024 County Committee seats.

What is a slate?Those who wish to be candidates for a County Committee seat may self-nominate as individuals. You may also join a friend or two and present yourselves as a “slate.” If you have more people on your slate than slots available in your area, you should present your slate in order of priority. If the election is competitive, it’s possible only 1, or even none, of you may be elected.

How does voting work?

If you are a credentialed voter, you may vote for only the number of slots available to your area. You must be present to cast your own votes, and may not transfer your votes to anyone else.
Typically, electing the County Committee is a straightforward process of consensus among members from each area. However, if there is a contest, and voting is required to fill seats for a particular area, we use proportional voting. Proportional voting means that a slate with 3 candidates might only get enough votes for 0, 1, or 2 of their candidates to be on the Committee. You will want to think about this when creating your slate — as candidates, you need to prioritize and present in advance who would be elected to the Committee.

The number of seats a slate receives is determined by this equation:  (Votes Received/Total Votes Cast) X Seats Available = Number of Seats Awarded. If you have 3 seats and 20 voters in your group, that would be (Votes Received/20) X 3. If someone withheld a vote, then it would be (Votes Received/19) X 3.
But don’t let this explanation deter you. The process is typically quite straightforward, and we’ll have expert assistance during the meeting to resolve any confusion.

What happens next?

The County Committee we elect must meet within 30 days to elect the 2023-2024 Officers of the Executive Board. It will then meet another 3 times (minimum) during the year, to monitor the actions and decisions of the Executive Board and relay suggestions and concerns from the areas its members represent. This year will see major changes, as the Chair, Vice-Chair and Treasurer are all stepping aside to make way for new leadership.

Information on slates and candidates who have announced their intention to run for a seat on the Executive Board will be found on the WCDP website beginning November 21. Interested persons may also announce their candidacy at the November 28 County Convention.

 Register here!

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