In the early days of BlueNC, I followed a challenge made by Lance McCord, a BlueNC founder, to attend my Democratic Party precinct meeting. It is now time for me to issue that same challenge. I know it is cold, and your couch is cozy, but we need your help to get Democrats elected.
Over the next few weeks, precincts will be organizing, meeting and electing new officers. It is not too late to get in on the action. OK, I know, it really isn' t that big of a deal, right? Wrong. It can be a very big deal, especially if you are a precinct involved in replacing an elected official who leaves office before their term is up. Two of my favorite legislators made it to Raleigh this way. Recognize these two?
Rep. Tricia Cotham and Sen. Jeff Jackson are both positive, energetic and effective. They have earned the respect of their colleagues and they each have built a base of support that expands far outside their districts. We got lucky with these two. Do you really want to leave a decision this important up to others?
Being involved at the precinct level is also a big deal if you are part of an active precinct that works together to get out the vote. We have one precinct in Union County that holds regular meetings. They have some of our most active volunteers and they have great Democratic turnout in their precinct - even though they are seriously outnumbered by Republicans. Getting out the vote is a huge job, made much smaller when we bring it down to the precinct level where a core group gets in touch with their neighbors to ask them to vote.
If your precinct is already organized, all you have to do is show up. You do not have to volunteer to do anything right away. Ask questions about the different auxiliaries in your county and how often your County Executive Committee (CEC) meets. If you are ready to get started, there are plenty of opportunities to get involved. Most counties do not have enough volunteers, so don't be surprised if you are swarmed.
If your precinct is not organized, consider volunteering to lead that effort. Initially, it only takes five registered Democrats attending a precinct meeting along with an election of officers to organize a precinct. Only five people. How hard can it be?
Of course, It isn't always as easy as I'm making it sound. Before moving to Union County I tried to organize my precinct in Mecklenburg County. I went door-to-door in my neighborhood and passed out 50 invitations for a meeting with refreshments at my house. It took two meetings to get five people to show up in the same room at the same time.
Contrast that with my first meeting here in Union County. It was held at a small church not far from my home. I walked into the building and there were so many people there, I thought I had accidentally entered a church meeting. I probably looked a little shocked because a woman said over the others, "If you're a Democrat, you're in the right place!" I certainly was. I walked in as a stranger and left as vice chair.
Organized precincts are the key to winning elections, so whether you are attending an existing meeting or trying to organize your own precinct, the effort is well worth your time.
Where to Start
The best place to start is the website of the North Carolina Democratic Party. There is a list of county chairs and websites. If you cannot find information about precinct meetings on your county's website, go ahead and email or call the county chair listed at the link above. You will need to know which precinct you live in. You can find that on your voter registration card or on the state Board of Elections website.
If you plan to organize your precinct, the county chair can provide you with a list of Democrats to call, email, or mail. Ask for a list of those who always vote. If they recognize the importance of voting it should be easier to get them to recognize the importance of organizing the precinct. Can't get it done in the next few weeks? Don't worry. That simply means your delegates cannot vote at the convention. You will be able to participate in and vote at CEC meetings.
Organizing meetings are pretty low key for the most part. There will be elections for chair, vice chair, and secretary. There will also be delegates elected to attend the county convention. If you are enjoying your new-found active status, but are not quite sure you are ready to take it to the next level, plan to attend the county convention. You do not have to be a delegate to attend, making it easy to be an observer and still be a part of the excitement.
What about all the infighting?