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					Being a Precinct Chair                            Bexar County Democratic Party July 2008


Precinct Chairs are the grassroots foundation of the Democratic Party. As Precinct Chair,
you are the personal contact between your neighbors and the Democratic Party; you are the
face of the Party in your neighborhood.

In accepting your two-year term as Precinct Chair, you have agreed to take on numerous
duties and responsibilities. This guide is intended to provide an overview of those functions.
It is not meant to be an all-encompassing, detailed step-by-step manual. In particular, this
guide focuses on activities necessary for success during the current election cycle.

This guide makes references to online resources prepared by the Precinct Chair
Recruitment Committee and the Texas Democratic Party and others.                  It would be
impractical for this guide to repeat all of the information found in these resources, but we
encourage you to explore these materials on your own. If you do not have internet access
or if you are not computer literate, help for online resources is available at the County
Headquarters and from members of the Precinct Chair Recruitment Committee.

Continuing Duties and Responsibilities

As Precinct Chair there are activities that you are responsible for on a continuing basis:

   Represent your precinct on the County Executive Committee (CEC)
     The CEC meets the first Tuesday of each month. As a Precinct Chair, you are a
       member of the County Executive Committee, and you are central in the decision-
       making process for the Bexar County Democratic Party. You attendance and
       participation are essential to the direction and function of the Party.

   Act as the liaison between elected officials and residents of your precinct
      Few people have an opportunity to meet and talk with elected officials, and vice
       versa. As Precinct Chair, you provide a conduit from your neighbors to elected
       officials and from elected officials to the electorate.

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Being a Precinct Chair                         Bexar County Democratic Party July 2008

   Understand the County and State Party Rules and the Texas Election Code
     You don’t need to be a lawyer or legislator to read and understand Party Rules.
      But you will be more effective as a Precinct Chair if you spend a few minutes
      reading through the “Standing Rules of the Bexar County Democratic Party”
      ( and        the   “Rules of    the Texas
      Democratic Party” ( The Texas
      Election code ( is more complex, and a
      law degree would facilitate a complete understanding.           Take a look at it on
      evenings when you have trouble falling asleep.

   Serve your community and the Democratic Party (and have fun doing it!)
      You provide a valuable service to your neighborhood and the party by providing
      feedback to the party, by communicating party ideals to the electorate, and most
      of all by assisting in getting Democratic candidates elected.

      It can be fun. You will make new acquaintances and develop new friendships. If
      you have co-workers who incessantly spout right-wing talking points, you will find
      it refreshing to discuss politics with people who share your values.

Election Year Activities

   Organize your precinct and build a precinct team
      You cannot do it alone, but you can recruit help from your family, neighbors, and
      friends. Those who attended your precinct convention are probably more active
      than those who merely voted in the primary, use the Precinct Convention sign-in
      sheets for a list of contacts. Don’t forget those who always vote Democratic. Use
      the Voter Activation Network (VAN) to locate neighbors who have consistently
      voted in the Democratic primary. See the presentation on the BCDP website:

   Initiate Your precinct convention
       Did your precinct convention begin with a quarrel over who was in charge? As
      Precinct Chair, your name will be on the packet next time. Your pre-convention

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Being a Precinct Chair                       Bexar County Democratic Party July 2008

      training will enable you and your team to conduct an orderly precinct convention.
      Your neighbors will thank you.

   Register new Democratic voters
     Use VAN and local voter rolls to determine who in your neighborhood is not
      registered to vote. Talk with them and see if they would tend to vote Democratic;
      if so, provide them a postage-paid registration card (available at Party
      Headquarters and the Post Office). You may not take the completed card from
      them unless you are a deputy voter registrar. To become a deputy registrar,
      contact the Bexar County Elections Administrator at 335-VOTE.

   Help to find election workers judges, alternate judges, and clerks
      Election judges and clerks are needed for holding orderly elections. You help the
      Party and your neighborhood by recruiting Democratic election judges and clerks.

   Canvass your precinct
     Research has proven that face-to-face voter contact is the most effective way to
      convince voters to vote for Democrats. No other method, be it television, mail,
      phone calls, or the Internet, comes even close. Walk the blocks in your
      neighborhood to get out the Democratic message and get a pulse on the attitudes
      in your neighborhood. Canvassing tips are available from the National Party at:

   Work for all Democratic candidates who represent your precinct
     The presidential nominee is only the top of the ticket. We also need to elect
      Democrats to the U.S. Senate, U.S. House of Representatives, State Senate,
      State Legislature, and as County Sheriff, County Commissioners, Judges,
      Justices of the Peace, and Constables. All of our Democratic candidates need
      your help. Use your team to promote the entire Democratic ticket.

   Election Day
      Get out the vote: The more Democratic voters you can get to the polls, the
                        better the results will be. Turnout, turnout and turnout are the
                        three most important ways to win elections.       Motivate your
                        neighbors to vote.    Remind them.      If they are elderly or

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                         disabled, offer to take them to early vote or to the polls on
                         election day. Better yet, bring them an application to vote by

      Dress the polls:   Those signs around your polling place don’t just spring up by
                         themselves. You help the Party most by dressing your polling
                         place for ALL the Democratic candidates.      This frees their
                         resources for other needed functions.

      Work the polls:    Have your team set a schedule so that there are always two or
                         more people to greet voters as they arrive at the polls. Hand
                         out literature to make a last-minute appeal for all the
                         Democratic candidates.

Using your team effectively

Eager volunteers are an important asset to any precinct, and they should be incorporated
into planning in a meaningful and thoughtful way. Key issues to consider when engaging
your volunteers:

   Do not overwhelm your volunteers
      Make sure that you pass out tasks in meaningful and manageable assignments.
      Ask them to canvass four apartment buildings, not four apartment complexes

   Be specific with assignments and time frame
      Ask them to canvass a specific block by a specific time, not simply “help me get
      out the vote.” Ask them to make 20 calls by a specified date.

   Provide the necessary resources
      If you are passing out pamphlets, provide them with the pamphlets. Assign a
      team member to get materials from specific candidates.

   After Action Reports
      Make sure they report back to you when they have completed their tasks.

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Being a Precinct Chair                         Bexar County Democratic Party July 2008


You, as Precinct Chair, are the grassroots foundation of the Democratic Party. With your
effort, we have a chance to turn Bexar County Blue, an important milestone toward turning
Texas Blue. The Democratic Party is relying on you to turn your neighborhood Blue. This
document is a preliminary guide to get you started and direct you to other resources. You
should make use of all the resources listed.

One resource not yet mentioned is the most valuable: other Precinct Chairs.           Some
members of the CEC have been Precinct Chairs for several election cycles. Seek them out
and ask their advice. They will be happy to share their experiences.

Online Resources
   Bexar County Democratic Party:
   Of particular Interest:           BCDP Rules
                                     Information for Precinct Chairs
                                     Building and Training Your Precinct Team

   Texas Democratic Party: 
   Of Particular Interest:           Rules of the TDP (under “The Party” Tab)
                                     Grassroots Handbook
                                     Voter Activation Network (VAN)

   Democratic Party        

   Bexar County Elections: 

   Get a Map of Your Precinct:
   Where XXXX is your precinct number

Please note: If you do not have internet access or are not computer literate (or do not have
access to a 10-year-old), help for online resources is available at Bexar County Democratic
Party Headquarters or though members of the Precinct Chair Recruitment Committee.

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Being a Precinct Chair                      Bexar County Democratic Party July 2008

List of Clubs

  Northeast Bexar County Democrats           Northwest Democrats                    
  Meets 1st Saturday of the Month            Meets 3rd Saturday of the Month
  Luby’s, Tesoro @ 410                       Luby’s, Floyd Curl @ Huebner

  Southside Democrats                        Bexar County Young Democrats
  Chain: Gina Castañeda            
  Phone:210-325-6414                         Meets 1st Wednesday of the Month
  Email:                Blue Star Restaurant

  Bexar County Tejano Democrats              Bexar County Texas Democratic Women
  Chair: Charlie Urbina-Jones      
  Phone: 210-225-5005                        Meets 1st Monday of the Month
  Email:                   Contact: Ruth Stewart
                                             Phone: 210-696-7980

  Stonewall Democrats of Bexar County        New Era Democrats                Contact: Ann FitzGibbons
  Meets 3rd Monday of the Month              Phone: 210-723-3093
  Grady’s BBQ, San Pedro                     E-Mail:
     @ Jackson-Keller

  College Democrats of UTSA                  Trinity University Democrats                 Contact: Maxwell Fisher
  Contact: James Gill                        E-Mail:
  Phone: 210-396-9615

  San Antonio Area Progressive Action Coalition
  Meets 1st Saturday of Month
  Grady’s BBQ, San Pedro @ Jackson-Keller

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