Improving Caucus Night

The Neighborhood Caucus Night Meeting is the most important meeting in our Party.  It is the most local and closest to the people, and currently, the only party meeting intended for all party members.  The success of this one meeting has far reaching effects for our party, and it’s recent inability to be a positive and unifying experience has had obvious detrimental repercussions.

But how do we go about improving caucus night? I believe we need to start by focussing on it’s primary purposes: bringing party members together and electing precinct leaders and delegates.

Time is working against us

Everyone already knows the worst part of Caucus Night: how long it goes! But what is taking all the time? Not the things that should have most the time, talking to candidates and voting.

My proposed solution has three parts:

1- Get candidates to declare ahead of time

We will create precinct mini websites where candidates can declare they are running for a precinct position and post a summary of them and their views. This will allow precinct members to learn about and review candidates before they arrive to help them be better informed and make their votes more meaningful. People can still choose to run the night of the meeting and they can be added to a posted list that all can see.

2- Use Ranked Choice Voting

Having precinct members fill out one ballot per position where they rank candidates in order of preference will eliminate multi-round voting and tallying that is VERY time-consuming. Tallying ranked choice ballots is a little more complicated, but overall saves time compared to multi-round tallying.

3- Move ballot tallying to the end

The most time-consuming part of Caucus Night is tallying all the ballots! And the larger the attendance, the longer it can take. But if we use Ranked Choice ballots there is no need to complete the voting and tallying on one position before moving to the next position. In fact, we can have an open polls time where precinct members can turn in their ballots anytime before the polls close. If they want to stick around to hear the results, they can, or they can just head home after they have filled out and turned-in their ballots.

For example, if Jane is running for Precinct Chair, but wants to run for Vice-Chair if she does not win as Chair, she can simply put her name down for both positions. If she wins Chair, her name will be skipped over when tallying the Vice-Chair ballots, which is easily done since the voters have provided their preference in order.

Since we are saving time in tallying, we can spend more time in candidate speeches. And if we have open polls time, we may also have time for free mingling time where precinct member and candidates can have individual or group conversations to get specific questions answered.

Here is and example caucus night schedule that could be done using these ideas:

Polls open
Check-in, mingling, discussions with candidates
Caucus Meeting Begins
Welcome, Formalities, Instructions
7:30pmCandidate Speeches
Open mingling and discussion with candidates
Polls close, Tallying begins

I believe that by focussing Caucus Night on the important items of meeting with and voting on candidates, and pushing off the time-consuming task of tallying ballots to the end of the meeting, we can improve the experience and satisfaction that all precinct members have when participating.

NEXT: Build our Team

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