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This diary is for Texas readers who have questions about the Texas precinct convention process.  Both myself and Phillip from BOR will be around to answer questions.

If you are merely curious about the process and/or lurking in the diary, please consider holding all questions and comments until the session is over.  We want to make sure those who will be attending get their comments and questions dealt with promptly. Philip will be around from 2-3:30 CST and I'll be here  from 2-4pm CST.

Join us beneath the fold and let's get going.

In order to participate, download these PDFs:

Precinct Convention 101 - Guide to the Precinct Convention Process (Spanish version here)
EZ Math Formula - Used for determining caucus viability and calculating the allocation of delegates at the Precinct Convention
Convention Minutes - This is the actual form you fill out during your Precinct Convention

Add txpctrain to your instant messenger client.  If you have any questions during the session and are unable to comment here, send your question via IM. All questions answered via IM will be posted to this thread in the comments section.

Here's how this will work. Phillip and I will accept questions and post comments about each part of the process for a set period of time:

1-1:45pm: Convention 101
1:45-2pm: EZ Math Formula
2-3pm: Convention Minutes

If you need help beyond the time allocated, ping txpctrain via IM or send email to txpctrain@yahoo.com. If there are multiple people needing assistance for a subject, I'll open a yahoo conference and invite people in.

I'll update this diary as needed.  We'll begin with the question/answer session for Convention 101 at 1pm.  At 1:45 I will update this diary with a few EZ Math formula examples, then we'll open the floor to questions.  We'll wrap up by answering questions about filling out your Convention minutes as well as providing you with a script you can use to run your convention.

Take the next 15 minutes to download the forms and get ready.  If you have trouble go ahead and drop a comment or ping.  Thanks for joining us!

Reference Links:
Texas Democratic Party Precinct Convention Information page
BOR Mega-FAQ for Texas Convention Process

1-1:45pm Convention 101

There are a few things to remember.  

Legally, anyone can convene your convention as temporary chair.  

Your convention cannot begin until the last voter has voted.  

Conventions begin at 7:15 sharp at your precinct polling location unless people are still voting.  

If you have a precinct chair, please allow them to convene the convention.

Although you can simply sign in and leave, you cannot appoint someone to proxy vote for you if you do so.  It is strongly suggested that you stay for the duration of your precinct convention.

You must vote in the primary to be eligible to participate in your convention.

Your precinct convention paperwork should be obtained from the election judge at your polling location on March 4.  It will include all the neccessary paperwork for your convention.

An important question was asked in the comments about moving the caucus locations.  Yes, they can be moved but all sign ins must be conducted at the original location.  That means that anyone who wants to participate and shows up should be able to sign in before the location changes.  There is a possibility this could happen this year due to enormous interest in the process.

I want to add the usual order of business for the precint conventions.  It usually goes like this: temporary chair convenes the convention and appoints a temporary secretary.  Permanent chair and secretary are elected. Attendees separate into caucuses for each candidate, then the chair announces the number of allocated delegates and the viability threshold (this will be covered during the EZ math time period). If neccessary, those not meeting viability will change caucuses. Each caucus then elects their delegates and alternates. The floor is then open to other business, then after all other business is dealt with the convention ends.  

You are not legally obligated to wait until 7:15 to begin signing in your convention attendees.  Frankly, if you have a large turnout, I'd advise beginning your sign ins as quickly as possible.  It helps speed up the process.  Just remember that you cannot start the convention legally util 7:15.  And if people are still voting at 7:15, you can sign people in but you cannot start your convention until the last voter has voted.

Here is part of a sample script you can use to start your convention:

A. CALL TO ORDER: The Convention of Precinct #__ will now come to order. It is now __ p.m., the time designated by the Executive Committee of the __________ Party, to call our
Precinct Convention to Order. My name is _________________________, the Temporary Chairman of the Convention. I have asked __________________________ to serve as Temporary Secretary.

B. ANNOUNCEMENT OF AGENDA AND RULES OF PROCEDURE: The Rules of the _____________ Party provide that certain items must be included in the agenda for a Precinct Convention. Following the Call to Order and Preparation of a List of Qualified Participants, we will Elect Permanent Officers of this Convention, Announce the Time and Location of our County or Senatorial District Convention and the Time and Location of Temporary Committee Meetings (if known). After our preliminary work is done, we will address the main reasons for being here to elect Delegates and Alternates to the County or Senatorial District Convention, followed by addressing any resolutions that may come forth. This will be followed by other business including significant announcements, then Adjournment. This Precinct Convention must be conducted in accordance with the Texas Election Code (TEC), the Rules of the ____________ Party and Roberts Rules of Order Newly Revised (RONR). Are there any comments or questions? (Pause and wait for any comments or questions, then proceed.)

C. ELECTION OF PERMANENT OFFICERS: The next business in order is the election of permanent officers of this convention. Nominations for permanent officers are now in order. [...]

________________________ has/have been nominated for Chairman. If there is no objection, we will vote in the order nominated. All in favor of ________________, please stand and remain standing until you are counted. All in favor of _____________________, please stand and remain standing until you are counted. The vote totals are _____ for _____________________ and _____ for _____________________.

Mr./Ms. _____________ has been elected Permanent Chairman of this Precinct Convention.

A question asked in the comments: how do you determine who the election judge is?  That will be the person actually running the election in your precinct.  They should have a nametag or badge on. Don't hesitate to ask who is who once you get to your precinct.

1:45-2:00pm EZ Math Formula

The EZ Math Formula is used to determine two things: your precinct viability threshold and the number of delegates each candidate will receive at the precint conventions. Here is a practical example of the EZ Math formula.  I am using the format found in the EZ Math formula sheet:

Step One: determine which groups are eligible to caucus.

20 Number of people attending the precinct convention DIVIDED BY
10 Number of delegates to the County/Senate District convention to which the precinct is entitled (note: this number will be found in the manila envelope obtained from the election judge) EQUALS
2 Number needed to form a caucus, aka "the threshold"

In other words, you have 20 people show up.  Your precinct is given 10 delegates. That means your precint viability threshold is 2 people.  If only 1 person shows up for "Other", they are not viable and must join their second choice or leave the precinct convention.

Using the numbers in the above example, let's move on to step two.  Let's assume that 15 people sign in for Obama and 5 people sign in for Clinton.  Each caucus is then considered viable (note: a "caucus" is the term we use for a group of attendees who support the same candidate). You now allocate the delegates.

Step Two: Determine How Many Delegates Each Caucus Gets

For Obama:
15 Number of people in a caucus DIVIDED BY
20 Number of people at your precinct convention EQUALS
75 Percent of Convention MULTIPLIED BY (note: this goes on your Convention Minutes Sheet)
10 Number of delegates to which your precinct is entitled EQUALS
7.5 Unrounded number of delegates to which the caucus is entitled
Next, round the number DOWN to determine how many delegates Obama gets: 7

For Clinton:
5 Number of people in a caucus DIVIDED BY
20 Number of people at your precinct convention EQUALS
25 Percent of Convention MULTIPLIED BY (note: this goes on your Convention Minutes Sheet)
10 Number of delegates to which your precinct is entitled EQUALS
2.5 Unrounded number of delegates to which the caucus is entitled
Next, round the number DOWN to determine how many delegates Clinton gets: 2

9 delegates have been allocated.  How do you allocate the last delegate position?  Allocate remaining delegates based on the fractional remainders until you run out of delegates.  In this example, there is a tie.  Allocate the last delegate based on an voice voice by the entire precinct convention.  In this example, the Obama people would clearly outvote the Clinton people to get the last delegate.  This would give Obama 8 delegates and Clinton 2 delegates. Next, the caucuses elect an equal number of alternates. In this case Obama gets 8 alternates and Clinton gets 2.

We'll now open the discussion to questions about the EZ Math formula.  Any particularly relevant or important ones will be posted to the main body of the diary.

2-3 pm Convention Minutes

The Convention Minutes sheet can be confusing the first time you see it.  However, all the information you need to fill it out will be provided in the manila envelope you get from the election judge, the EZ Math formula sheet, and your precinct convention sign in sheet.  Rather than post it in it's entirety, we'll just open the floor to questions about the minutes sheet and I'll post the hilights in the main body.  

A question about who turns in the paperwork and when.  The permanent convention chair is responsible for turning in copies of the sign in sheets and minutes to the County Chair of your party within three days after the primary.  Legally this can be done in person or by mail.  I'd recommend taking it down in person to your county party headquarters.  Call beforehand to make sure you don't need to deliver it somewhere else.  You also need to mail a copy to the State Democratic Executive Committee.  Their mailing address in Austin may be found at the bottom of the Convention minutes form.

The permanent chair will also call in the results to the TDP immediately after the caucus.  The phone number is 1-800-336-3248.

Final Session, Additional Questions

The question is can you bring your child.  The answer is yes.

Someone also mentioned that their local paper in a rural area printed a notice saying their conventions will be held at 7:30.  We assume this was a mistake by the newspaper.  As stated above, they begin at 7:15.

Originally posted to anna on Fri Feb 29, 2008 at 10:46 AM PST.

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