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January 19, 2014 / needhamgrassroots

What’s a Caucus and Why Should I Care? (2014 edition)


If you’ve recently gotten involved in elections or legislative organizing, you might have been encouraged by others to go to a Democratic Caucus soon, to vote for or 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.

The Convention is attended by Elected Delegates. Delegates are elected at Democratic Caucuses. Anyone who is a registered Democrat can go to their Caucus and vote for Delegates.

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 process, 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 city 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.

Here’s the important point: if you want a say in whom the Democratic Party party fields as candidates, you should go to your caucus and VOTE for delegates whom you trust to represent your values. (…and, perhaps, even, run yourself as a Delegate!) 

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

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. {Full list of 2014 caucus dates/locations for all MA towns is at the MassDems website}. You must be a registered Democrat, as of 1/31/2014 to run and to vote!

How hard is it to be elected delegate? Depends on how many people run. Often, there is not a lot of competition. But in nominating convention years (like in 2014), there is more competition, because so much is at stake electorally (one would hope that even in non-nominating years, there would be strong demand to be a delegate, but it’s unfortunately not the case).

What happens at a nominating convention? 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 Democratic candidate for any of these offices does not receive at least 15% of the Delegates’ votes at the convention, he/she will NOT be included on the Primary Election ballot [good explanation of this rule at this blog]. So, the stakes are high in Nominating Convention year — and so competition is tougher during these years.

Which is all the more reason to (1) organize, in advance, 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 (ANY *registered* Democrat is entitled to vote at the Caucus)!!

If this is your first time thinking about running as a delegate, this might be a hard year to get elected, but it’s good practice for subsequent  years (and maybe you will win, with enough organizing/support from the caucus-goers!). But,even if you don’t want to run, it’s very important to elect DELEGATES WHO SHARE YOUR VALUES, and whom you trust to VOTE FOR CANDIDATES THAT YOU WANT TO SEE ON THE BALLOT.

Q: How can I make sure good delegates, who represent my values, are elected?

…talk about the caucuses with friends, talk to delegate candidates and BRING friends to the Caucuses, and work together to make sure your preferred delegates are elected.

If they are registered Democrats (as of 1/31/2014), they are entitled to vote and can vote for your candidates!

More questions? See the MassDems website and/or email


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  • Be registered AS A DEMOCRAT (not ‘unenrolled’ or Republican) by Jan. 31, 2014 to be Eligible to Vote for/Run As Delegate

  • February 8, 2014, 10 AM: Needham Caucus. It’s important to be there BEFORE doors close at 10AM.

  • June 13-14, 2014, MA Dem Convention, Worcester MA



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