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Local Political Party Structure​ for Beginners

by Deedra Abboud in Political, Solutions
July 10, 2020 0 comments

I’m an elected Precinct Committeeperson for the Democratic Party and previously served as a State Committee Person.

Most people don’t know what those positions mean.

Regardless of voter registration, most people aren’t involved in party meetings or activities and would have no reason to know.

With the 2018 midterms, we saw a huge increase in “Get out the Vote” (#GOTV) involvement as well as attendance and participation in political party meetings.

But the structure and acronyms can seem overwhelming for those newly introduced.

Most people aren’t interested in ‘moving up the ranks’ and don’t want a PhD in the political party structure, but they would welcome a very general understanding of the terms and how things work.

In the United States, political parties consist of three parts: the party as government (members of the party who hold public office), the party as an organization (committees, leaders and activists who work to promote the party and the candidates), and the party as electorate (citizens who support the party through party identification).

State and local party structures and processes are determined by a combination of state statutes, party by-laws, and party board decisions.

Even though the focus is so often on the national committees (i.e. DNC & RNC), state and local parties have more influence than the national party around their region… with state and local party decisions tending to override those of the national party.

This is a VERY general and simplistic explanation of the Arizona Democratic Party structure and roles.

Precinct

One of several districts into which a city or town is divided for the purposes of voting and representation in city or town government. This is the lowest level of party organization.

Wards

An administrative division of a city or borough that typically elects and is represented by a council member – also known as districts in some cities and towns.

Legislative District (LD)

The state of Arizona is divided into 30 Legislative Districts. The Legislative District (LD) is the basic political operating unit.

Each LD is represented by one State Senator and two State Representatives.

These positions are directly elected by voters within the legislative district boundaries.

Each registered political party has a committee in each LD, made up of precinct committeepersons who get out the vote for their candidates and represent their neighbors within the party.

Congressional District (CD)

One of a fixed number of districts into which a state is divided, each district electing one member to the national House of Representatives.

Every person lives in a congressional district, a state legislative district, a county district, a local precinct, as well as a ward/district if they live in an area that elects city/town councils.

All of these electorate divisions determine who shows up on your personal ballot and are created through redistricting after each census determines population locations every ten years.

On a side note, 2020 is the census year and districts will be redrawn in 2021. #DoTheCensus

While Arizona has an Independent Redistricting Commission to redraw the Congressional and Legislative Districts in 2021, the County Board of Supervisors draw their own County District maps in Arizona… so the County Supervisors elected in 2020 will redraw the maps, without oversight, in 2021 and those boundaries will remain until the next census in 10 years.

Precinct Committee Person (PC)

The office of precinct committee person is defined in Arizona Revised Statutes (ARS) Section 16, Chapter 5, Article 2.

The precinct committee person is an elected official with responsibilities prescribed by the State and by his political party. Every recognized political party in Arizona has precinct committee persons.

Responsibilities include:

  • Voting, in person or by proxy, at each and every district and county party election when qualified to do so. This allows you to elect who leads our legislative districts and county party.
  • Assisting the Party in voter registration.
  • Assisting and encouraging voters to vote on election days.
  • Attending District and County meetings.
  • Working within the precinct from which elected.
  • Creating enthusiasm and support for the Party.
  • Help to elect candidates.
  • Promote Party ideals.
  • The number of PCs positions is determined by the number of registered party-affiliated voters in that precinct.
  • Any registered voter living in a precinct is eligible to be a PC for the party with which they are registered.
  • PCs are elected after the primaries and serve for two-year terms beginning October 1st of that year. Elected PCs have voting rights at LD, county, and state committee meetings and can run for board positions.
  • PCs can be appointed but appointed PCs do not have voting rights at LD, county, or state committee meetings.

A PC is a neighborhood leadership role, being ‘in the know’ about party activities and issues, increasing the flow of information between your neighborhood and the party, as well as being involved with decision-making on the local level.

You can be an influencer for the party, elections, and people you know.

Though elections for PCs have passed this year, if a vacancy exists, LDs will begin PC appointments in January – so talk to your local LD board members if you are interested.

State Committee Person

The Arizona Democratic Party is organized into a state committee, an executive committee, and an executive board.

The state committee is the governing body of the party, helps determine Party policy and platforms, and is responsible for electing State Party leaders.

An elected PC must become an elected State Committee person in order to vote at State Committee meetings as well as run for County or State board positions.

You can visit your own State, County of Legislative District Party websites, or social media, to find out how to be more involved.

2020 is an #UpBallot Year.

#GoLocalVoteLocal

#GOTV2020

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