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February 6, 2013 / needhamgrassroots

What are these Democratic Caucuses and why should I care?

caucusThis write-up from 2013 describes the Platform Convention process, which applies again now in 2017. But references to dates and links will be outdated/old. 

If you’ve recently gotten involved in elections, you might have been encouraged by others to go to a Democratic Caucus this weekend soon, to run as a Delegate for the Massachusetts Democratic Convention this summer.

The Convention is where the Massachusetts Democratic Party decides big things, like what its platform will be and what candidates it will run.

(2014 is a nominating convention for constitutional offices–Governor, Lt Gov, Auditor, Treasurer, Attorney General. (2013 was a PLATFORM CONVENTION)

Pretty cool, right? Who WOULDN”T want to be part of this Convention and all of the deciding that happens there? But if this is the first you’ve heard about this, you probably have some questions. Here are the obvious ones:

Who gets to vote on these important things at the Convention? The ELECTED DELEGATES to the convention, from every town and ward in Massachusetts.

Who gets to elect these delegates? Every/any REGISTERED DEMOCRATS (not independents or “unenrolled”. And you need to have been registered as a Dem before 1/31/2014).

When do registered democrats get a chance to vote on delegates? At their town/ward’s CAUCUS, which typically is held in February of every year. In 2017 in Needham it is in March. TBA

So, as you see, if you want a say in who has a say in the Party’s official platform and candidates, you should go to your caucus and: 

  1. Vote for the persons you believe represent your values as a Democrat
  2. Run yourself as a Delegate! 

Run for delegate?!! This brings up more questions!:

When is the caucus? TBA for 2017.

When is the convention? 2014:  it is Jun 13-14 in Lowell, MA. If you run for delegate, you should make sure first that you are free to go to Lowell on July 13!

Who can run as a delegate? Any registered Democrat (as of 1/31/2014) who is present at the Caucus and is nominated/seconded by their fellow Democrats (easily done; just ask the person sitting next to you if you don’t know anyone!)

How hard is it to be elected delegate? Depends on how many people run. Often, there is not a lot of competition.


On the years where it is a Platform Convention (2013), there are usually fewer candidates than there are delegate seats. So this year is a great time to make your first run! Needham will vote to send 20 Delegates (10 women, 10 men) to the Convention, plus 3 alternates. Since any registered (as of deadline) Democrat in your town can vote, ask some friends to attend so that they can vote for you! With grassroots organizing like that, you will be hard to beat!

Where do I have to be to VOTE and/or RUN AS A DELEGATE? For Needham/2014– you need to be at the NEWMAN SCHOOL on FEBRUARY 8, 2014, before doors close at 10:00AM. Remember, you must be a registered Democrat, as of 1/31/2014 to run and to vote!


2014 is a Nominating Convention year: we’re sending delegates to the MA Dem. Convention to vote on Democratic candidates for statewide offices (Gov, Lt Gov, AG, Treas., Auditor, Sec. of State). If a candidate does not receive at least 15% of the Delegates’ votes at the convention, he/she will NOT be included on the Primary Election ballot. So, the stakes are high in Nominating Convention year — and competition can be tougher during these years. Which is all the more reason to come to (1) organize to run as a delegate, (2) come to the caucus and VOTE for who you want to represent you at the Convention, (3) organize friends and other Democrats to show up at the Caucus to vote!!

What do I have to do to run? Give a quick introduction of yourself to those at the caucus, and briefly share your work, such as on recent campaigns and other advocacy, and why you want to be involved. You’ll be among Democratic friends; there’s no need to be nervous! And, BRING friends. If they are registered Democrats (as of 1/31/2014), they are entitled to vote and can vote for you!

More questions? See the MassDems website and/or email


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