A super sexy subject: How the DNC elects Vice Chairs….
***With some DNC responses, I will star them so you know where*** I did not replace any of my text, but added their points verbatim. Huge thanks to the Secretary’s office for sending. All in all, I think I was pretty accurate, except for the trans piece which is great news! On the interim chair piece — I need to investigate.
I know there have been a lot of questions about the Vice Chair race and so I thought I would add what I know about how it works. Details below, but here is the quick summary:
What is the process?
o The DNC has 9 elected positions ***(As all 447 members are elected, there are 9 National Officers elected)***, including 3 Vice Chair at large positions. I am running for one of these Vice Chair positions.
o Out of the 9 positions, 7 positions are restricted by gender ***(DNC official language “the officers shall be as equally divided as practicable according to gender in accordance with Article 3, Section 1(e) of the Charter.” This is not a restriction but a requirement)***. The balance for these 7 positions must be 4 women and 3 men, or vice versa. This sounds great in theory, but it also has disadvantages where there are a lot of strong women candidates.
o Ballots can only be cast by DNC Members. Members can see each other’s votes, which seems a little fishy to me. ***( DNC Response: Our Charter, under Article 9, Section 12, provides that “All meetings of the Democratic National Committee, the Executive Committee, and all other official Party committees, commissions and bodies shall be open to the public, and votes shall not be taken by secret ballot.” basically saying its not a restriction but a requirement )***— I do get that language but right now it feels like a restriction for me
o The Vice Chair at large role is not well-defined. I want to change this and make it a meaningful position.
Finally I want to say to everyone that you keep saying Millennials need to get involved in politics. Well look at us! We are. I along with my fellow candidates for this race represent a diverse group of millennials running for Vice Chair. I have seen so many amazing peers writing to the DNC chair candidates on medium and in open letters, starting amazing political projects on their own, and running for office. We are taking part — so please recognize us, speak with us and let’s work together.
What can I do to help?
o Share this Medium post. The DNC is not as transparent as it could be, and I want to change that so that we get buy-in from all democrats and they feel part of the process.
o Attend a forum and support me there. Dates and locations below. These will be great opportunities to see what the DNC is like from the inside.
o If you know any of the DNC Members, please reach out to them. Contact me first — @lizjaff or email@example.com, and we can discuss talking points. Please do not contact them unless you know them personally, however. Apparently it can backfire massively.
Ok, so here we go:
Basic Process & Gender Rules
Full disclosure, here is the official DNC FAQ page, which has some information. But below is how I understand it….
The DNC election process is pretty obscure and complex, and it has not been easy to learn about it — though honestly the DNC staff have been really friendly and sat on the phone with me for a while trying to explain it, and I’ve pieced together the bits and pieces from different people, so here we go:
There are 9 elected positions for the DNC Leadership:
· National Finance Director
· Vice Chair ASDC (Association of State Democratic Committees)
· Vice Chair CEVP (Civic Engagement and Voter Participation)
· Vice Chair at large x3 (I am running for one of these slots)
Gender based Voting Rules
There are gender laws ***( These provisions are governed by Party Rule.)*** that play into the voting. The rule is that out of 7 positions (all except the Chair and Chair of the ASDC) there must be 3 women and 4 men, or 4 women and 3 men. This means that Vice Chair CEVP, Finance, Treasurer and Secretary are voted on first. Then the last 3 Vice Chair slots are decided. Whether these last 3 slots are men or women depends on how many men or women were elected in the initial round of voting. So…
Let’s say there are 3 women and 1 man elected for the non-Vice Chair positions during the first round of voting. Then the Vice Chair ballots are cast, and you can vote for up to 3 candidates of any gender on your ballot.
The top vote getter may be a man or a woman, and that could determine the gender of the other 2.
For example, let’s say 1 woman gets the top vote for Vice Chair. Then all 4 of the woman spots are taken, and the other two spots must be filled by males. So the highest male vote getters get the other slots.But if 1 man gets the top vote for Vice Chair, then the other 2 top slots could be 2 men, or 1 man and 1 woman (Welcome to my world of hell because math.)
This means that basically I am running against the women and not the men. I get why this rule was put in place, but it’s just hard when you know you could have had a ton of baller women running this place… ***(DNC is confused by my example, but they get what i’m trying to say — their response: Ultimately, the candidates should aim to be the highest vote getter)***.
Ballots and Transparency and Members
The ballots are cast by DNC Members. You can ask for the list of Members, and as a candidate I received one immediately, but as a general democrat, it’s a lot harder to see it. I had a friend request the list and she still has not received it.
There are 447 DNC Members, and their numbers are proportional to their states ***( DNC clarification: the proportional allocation of state elected DNC Members is based on factors that include but are not limited population and democratic performance)***. These members are voted in every four years and then vote for leadership. Each party has a Chair and a Vice Chair (they must be of the opposite gender so if your Chair is a male, your Vice Chair must be a female. I am not sure how they will incorporate trans-sexuality into this equation) actually they have already and that’s awesome! *** (DNC response: The equal division provisions are provided for in our Charter and Bylaws. However, we do allow each individual to choose the gender they wish to affiliate in order to comply with these provision.)*** There are also executive directors for each party — these are not members but run the state parties as staff (and from what I have found, they are pretty awesome individuals).
The ballots once cast are PUBLIC. Now think about this… let’s say you have some members of Congress running for these positions or Heads of Labor Organizations in your state — and you as a member do not vote for them…. that seems like a massive conflict of interest — since they will know. Needless to say, it seems strange that the votes are public — not that we (non members) would have easy access to see them, but that other DNC members do…. that seems off.***( DNC response: Please see the third comment re: secret ballot provisions in our Charter & Bylaws —explaining why no secret ballots)***. I still think it’s a bit off if its clear you did not vote for a member from your state, how do you confirm there won’t be some sort of retaliation?
What does a Vice Chair do?
Here is what the DNC says:
“While the Charter and Bylaws provides for five Vice Chairs of the National Committee as outlined below, it does not specify responsibilities for these officers. Traditionally, the role of the Vice Chairs and the scope of their duties should be determined by the National Chair. In general, they serve as the Party’s ambassadors, assist with fund-raising and training, and help in other ways that capitalize on the individual Vice Chair’s abilities and interests” (This is taken from candidate documents I was sent when I submitted for candidacy, and I haven’t found it online.)
I have no idea what this means — I do know having spoken to some of the executive directors that they never even spoke to a Vice Chair in their 10 years on the job. Additionally, at our last forum only 50 or so people were left to watch the Vice Chair Debate after the Chairs had left. Luckily, we pushed to change that format so that the Chair debate is last so people have to stay for us…. much like the Oscars.
I want to make this role similar to that of a board member for a fortune 500 company — and by that I mean — you need to be INVESTED in the success of the states (your business). This means providing them with the resources they need to succeed. I want to help tell their stories, market their campaigns, and solicit donors and organizers to support them. I want to deliver funding and resources — and if I don’t succeed on those deliverables, I should step down.
The Vice Chairs should divide and conquer and all take a group of states to help support — there are 3 at large Vice Chairs — that is NOT impossible. Then we should commit to bringing in X amount of $$ to each state and stick with that. We need to also represent all those groups outside of the DNC and work on connecting them directly with the states and organizations that need help — I want to serve this role. The more transparent we are, the more data we share, and the more connections we facilitate — the more we will win.
What is the process to run for Vice Chair?
You have to collect 20 signatures from DNC members saying they will nominate you to run for Vice Chair. The issue here is that some of these members stop becoming members before the election (February 24), since their own elections happen during this time: FL just got new members and NC are voting on new ones this weekend. So some signatures become void. This is also super fun (read: ironic) to collect because some DNC Members like to say that they think they can only sign one petition…. this is FALSE because they can sign as many as they want…. but hey.
Forums and Filing
There are 4 forums before the major election. We, as candidates, get a lot of information on this, but limited information on how the general public can attend.***(DNC’s response: All Forums are open to the press and to the public. There have been several press releases that have gone out with this information. Also, in advance of each Forum, a release has gone out with information for public participation that includes on site logistical details, link to the live stream, and how to submit questions to the candidate)***
My point is who do the press releases go to ? Why is the information not posted on the site clearly for others to find? Press Releases I believe are rather out of date and I think we should be using new technology to share this information. But technically, you can come and volunteer at these events, wave signs, hand out buttons and wear t-shirts…. you can also sign up to attend the forum but these sign ups happen the week of. As a candidate, you need to submit an intent to participate the Monday of the week of the forum. Additionally you must file by February 21st to run for office ***( DNC response: The deadline is provided in accordance with the Rules of Procedure that provides a deadline of February 21 which prohibits a final and complete candidate list until that time)*** — this means submitting your 20 legitimate petitions signed by DNC members. So anyone can run last minute AND the interim chair can nominate anyone they want to run at the last minute too…..*** (DNC Response: The Interim Chair does not have the ability to nominate candidates)*** I want to check this, I heard this from 3 different members, maybe they mean the chair could call someone and say run and that person then runs by Feb 21st? I’m not sure but I will investigate.
DNC Future Forum: Phoenix, AZ (happened)
Sheraton Grand Phoenix Hotel, 340 N. 3rd Street, Phoenix, AZ 85004
January 13th — 14th, 2017
DNC Future Forum: Houston, TX (this weekend)
Texas Southern University, Sawyer Auditorium, 3100 Cleburne Street, Houston, TX 77004
January 27th — 28th, 2017
DNC Future Forum: Detroit, MI
Wayne State University Community Arts Auditorium, 5401 Cass Avenue, Detroit, MI 48202
February 3rd — 4th, 2017
DNC Future Forum: Baltimore, MD
Baltimore Convention Center, 1 W. Pratt Street, Baltimore, MD 21201
February 10th — 11th, 2017
FULL DNC MEETING: Atlanta, GA — Elections Happen
Westin Peachtree Plaza Hotel, 210 Peachtree Street NW, Atlanta, GA 30303
February 23rd — 26th, 2017
The Candidates for Vice Chair …(and other positions)
The DNC does not list any official candidates on their website until February 21, after people actually file*** ( DNC Response: We cannot list any official candidates prior to the deadline. We don’t know who will meet the requirements before February 21. Again, this is per our Rules, however, in advance of each Forum, we do provide a list of all candidates who are participating. That information is online and goes out in a press release)***. So here is who we have for Vice Chair At Large right now in alphabetical order (otherwise I would just start with myself) and links to their websites when available — yes people, I’m doing this — open data baby! I only did the vice chairs, so feel free to send me all the links you can find and we can crowdsource this. You can also see us all speak at the forum in Phoenix and the Houston forum will be up this weekend live on the same link. (And since this is a Medium post we can update it, so if I’m missing anyone let me know @lizjaff or firstname.lastname@example.org):
Candidates for Vice Chair:
Maria Elena Durazo, California (running for re-election)
Liz Jaff, Washington, D.C. (yay)
Grace Meng, New York (Running for re-election)
Rick Palacio, Colorado
Adam Parkhomenko, Virginia
….Finally, here are the other positions running — you should absolutely look at Secretary and Treasurer and Finance Chair. Open Data folks. Send me links and I will include them. Let’s help the DNC together.
Candidates for Chair:
Sally Boynton Brown, Idaho
Raymond Buckley, New Hampshire
Pete Buttigieg, Indiana
Keith Ellison, Minnesota
Jehmu Greene, Texas
Jaime Harrison, South Carolina
Honorable Tom Perez, Maryland
Peter Peckarsky, Wisconsin
Sam Ronan, Ohio
Vincent Tolliver, Georgia
Robert Vinson Brannum, Washington, D.C.
Candidates for Vice Chair of Civic Engagement and Voter Participation:
Karen Carter Peterson, Louisiana
Melissa Fazli, California
Chris Reeves, Kansas
Yasmine Taeb, Virginia
Candidates for Secretary:
Roberta Lange, Nevada
Jason Rae, Wisconsin
Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Maryland
Candidates for Treasurer:
Joyce Amico, Colorado
William Derrough, New York
Candidates for National Finance Chair:
Henry Munoz III, Texas