How DNC Officers Are Elected
Since November, the DNC’s Department of Party Affairs has seen enormous interest in the future of the Democratic Party and the officer elections happening in February in Atlanta, Georgia.
As part of our commitment to hosting the most open and transparent officer elections ever, we put together a short guide to the DNC officer elections. I hope this answers any questions you have, but if not, please leave a comment or tweet at us at @DNC, and we’ll get back to you.
How often do DNC officer elections happen?
DNC officer elections take place after every presidential election — this year the DNC will elect a new Chair, Vice Chairs, Treasurer, Secretary, and National Finance Chair at the Winter Meeting in Atlanta.
Who are the officers of the DNC?
So many Democrats across the country are excited about the election of the next Chair of the Democratic Party. For a good reason — the Chair of the DNC plays a huge role in the future of the Democratic Party and the direction of the DNC.
The Chair serves as the CEO of the Democratic National Committee, and the public face of the party. The Chair is responsible for carrying out the day-to-day activities of the Committee, hiring staff including the executive director and senior leadership of the DNC, and ensuring the Democratic National Convention is a success. The chair also presides over meetings of the Democratic National Committee and of the DNC Executive Committee and appoints the members of committees of the National Committee.
Finally, it’s important for the Chair of the DNC to conduct the organization’s activities with impartiality and evenhandedness, particularly as they apply to the preparation and conduct of the Presidential nomination process and all Democratic primaries.
Typically, the role of the Vice Chairs and the scope of their duties are determined by the national Chair.
They usually serve as the Party’s ambassadors and assist with fundraising and training and other duties as determined by the chair of the DNC. In practice, Vice Chairs focus on activities related to their abilities and interests, such as raising money, outreach, or organizing.
In Atlanta, DNC members will elect four new Vice Chairs.
The President of the Association of State Democratic Chairs (ASDC) automatically serves as one of the Vice Chairs. Another vice chair focuses on voter outreach and protection activities — this position is called “Vice Chair for Civic Engagement and Voter Participation.”
If there’s a vacancy in the role of Chair, or if the Chair becomes incapacitated, one of the Vice Chairs will act as the chair until a new DNC Chair is elected by the DNC.
The Secretary is responsible for communications with the National Committee members on matters related to DNC meetings, which typically happen a couple times a year.
The Secretary is the Party’s official record-keeper, and maintains the list of members and DNC officers.
This office also works with the National Archives to preserve the Party’s records and official documents. That’s right — the records of the DNC are a part of the National Archives.
During the convention, the Secretary keeps track of the official convention participants. The Secretary’s office prepares a daily summary of the convention and publishes the Official Convention Proceedings.
The Treasurer of the DNC is an advisor to the DNC Chair and the Executive Committee on the finances of the Democratic Party.
The Treasurer is the officer responsible for facilitating the filing of the Party’s campaign finance reports with the Federal Election Commission.
National Finance Chair
The National Finance Chair and the Treasurer advise the DNC Chair and the Executive Committee with respect to the Party’s finances. In practice, the job of the National Finance Chair includes raising money and providing guidance on the fundraising operation at the DNC.
Who’s running for DNC offices?
In order to be considered for any of these officer positions, candidates must gather 20 signatures from DNC Members and file with the DNC’s Office of the Secretary by the Tuesday before the election. This year, that is February 21, 2017.
Because the filing deadline has not yet passed, there is not currently a final list of candidates. That’s why it’s important to tune in to our regional forums and learn more about the candidates participating at each forum.
What are the rules for the election?
There is a set of rules (we call them Rules of Procedure) that governs this process and ensures it is fair for everyone.
Before each election of DNC officers, the DNC’s Rules and Bylaws Committee drafts the procedural rules for the upcoming election. The Rules of Procedure for this election state when the election for National Officers must be held (before March 1), the process for filing to run for these positions, logistical details — such as how long each candidate’s nominating speech can be, and equal division requirements (we’ll get into this in just a minute).
The purpose of the Rules of Procedure is to be transparent about how to run for these officer positions, to level the playing field for all candidates. You can find a copy of these rules here.
How does diversity play a role in the elections?
One of the longstanding principles that have guided Democratic Party rules is our commitment to diversity. As a Party we have rules that help ensure our National Officers, as well as the members of the DNC, are balanced between men and women — what we refer to as “equal division.” For the election of our officers, our rules provide that, with the exception of the National Chair and ASDC President (who is a Vice Chair) the DNC Officers must be equally divided. This means that of the seven remaining officers, four will be of one gender and three will be of the opposite gender.
For this election, the rules require that the officers be elected in the following order: Treasurer, Secretary, National Finance Chair, Vice Chair for Civic Engagement and Voter Participation, and then the remaining three Vice Chairpersons. For the election of the three Vice Chairs, which is the last group of offices to be elected, provisions will be made to elect the appropriate number of persons to ensure the equal division of the officers. This means that if the breakdown of the officers elected is 3 men and 1 woman, the election of the Vice Chairs must result in a balance of 3 of one gender and 4 of the other to ensure the equal division is met. While we won’t know what the breakdown will be until the election, DNC Members will be given instructions to cast the ballots for candidates of the appropriate gender.
Openness and Transparency
Democrats are committed to building a strong party for our future, and our non-voting supporters have a huge role to play in the party’s future.
That’s why we have been livestreaming each of our regional forums, and we encourage all Democrats to tune in and tweet their thoughts using the hashtag #DNCForum.
If you have a thoughts or suggestions about this process and how we can move our Party forward, please submit them here and we’ll share your feedback with party leaders in your state.