There are two ways in which one can become the precinct chair for your neighborhood. If your precinct currently does not have a precinct chair, then you are able to apply (note that I am assuming you are registered to vote; if you are not, then register to vote first!) to the leadership of your party in your County to fill the position; if there is already a chair then you can run against them for the position in the next election.
Before exploring these options however, you need to know things. First you need to figure out what your precinct number is, and second you need to determine if the position of precinct chair for your precinct is currently occupied – and if so, by whom.
What’s My Precinct Number?
Now clearly if you wish to apply to fill a vacant precinct chair position; you first need to determine your precinct number, which is based on your residential address. Please note that precinct numbers are unique only within counties, so when referencing your precinct number also mention the county name unless it is clear from the context which county you are referring too. There are numerous ways to get your precinct number.
Check Your Voter Registration Card
If you have your voter registration card, look it over. Many states will have a field on the card that tells you your precinct number. Not all states include this information on their voter registrar cards, but it is a good place to start looking as you most likely have it somewhere convenient.
Perform An Internet Search
The next thing to try is to use an internet search engine to attempt to determine your precinct number. A search for the name of your county, your state and the phrase “voter registration” will more than likely return a result affiliated with your county government – somewhere on that page, most counties will have an option to check whether you are registered to vote or not.
Check ‘Can I Vote’
Visit www.canivote.org. This site it useful as it provides a clearance house for state election websites. It offers an alternative way to located voter registration information specific to your state. If you cannot find your county election site this is a good alternative place to look for your precinct information.
Contact Your Political Parties County Office
Again, this method starts with the internet. Search for your parties county website – for example ‘dallas county democratic party’ – and one of the first few results is sure to belong to the headquarters for your county party. On the site you should be able to find the phone number or email of someone involved in precinct chair recruitment – if not, simply call or contact them via whatever method the provide.
Whomever you speak to at the county headquarters will be able to either help you determine your precinct number, or redirect you to someone who can. The parties love to hear from new people asking questions like this, as someone showing this type of interest has a strong likelihood of becoming an asset to their organizing and get out the vote efforts.
Determine If Your Precinct Chair Position Is Vacant Or Occupied
Having now identified your precinct, your next task is to determine if the precinct is vacant. The following are the easiest ways to obtain this information.
Check Your Parties County Website
Your political parties county website – easily found as discussed earlier in this article – is a useful source for all sorts of local party information. Depending on how well fleshed out and maintained the site is, something which will also be a good indicator of how well organized the party is locally, there may be a list of precinct chairs available somewhere on the site.
If you are able to find such a list you will find a list of precinct numbers for the county, and associated precinct chairs for the party; possibly with contact and other information. Sometimes the list will include all of the precincts and simply leave the name field blank if the Precinct Chair position is vacant. Other times the list may just include occupied precinct chairs, so the absence of your precinct from the list is likely to indicate a precinct chair vacancy also.
Call Or Email Your Parties County Office
Of course sometimes just reaching out to someone is the most effective means of getting information. As discussed earlier, the parties county website is sure to have some phone numbers or email addresses of people who will be able to lookup if your Precinct has a precinct chair or not. When you get hold of someone, simply ask them to tell you whom your precincts chair is – they will either provide you a name and contact information, or will tell you that the position is vacant.
Be Patient But Persistent
Note that many of the people who work for the party at a county level are volunteers, so it is entirely possible they will not always be available – and may potentially not respond right away. If you leave a message or send an e-mail give them a day or two to respond, but if you don’t hear back do not get discouraged.
Call again and try reaching out to a different person on the list of contacts. If all else fails take a long lunch and drive to party headquarters one day to find out in person. The hardest part of applying for a precinct chair position is maintaining your motivation long enough that you don’t lose interest before you achieve your goal.
Precinct Chair Vacancy – Appointment
Having determined your precinct number, and the current status of the precinct chair position, you must determine your next step. If the position of chair is vacant, then you should initiate the steps to be appointed to fill a vacant precinct chairmanship.
Precinct Chair Filled – Cooperation
If the precinct chair spot is already filled, then reach out to the person occupying that spot and offer your help with their grassroots efforts. If you find that they do a good job of fulfilling their responsibilities you may wish to just contribute your time as a volunteer to assist them indefinitely.
Precinct Chair Filled – Campaign
However, if you feel they don’t represent your precinct in a manner you agree with then you can run for the position in the next election cycle. Just remember to keep it civil if you do so, there is no need to make enemies – you may even find they are delighted at the prospect of someone taking the title off their hands!
Still unsure about what precinct you are in, or if you have a Democratic Party precinct chair? Contact me and I’ll try to help!