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January 11, 2018 / needhamgrassroots

Democratic Caucuses, Delegates, Road to Convention: A Primer (2018 edition)

this post is an update of earlier versions. expect periodic revisions. 

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? 2018:  Jun 1-2 in Worcester, MA. If you run for delegate, you should make sure first that you are free to go to Worcester on June 2 (when the voting is)!

Where do I have to be to VOTE and/or RUN AS A DELEGATE? You have to be a registered Democrat, and show up at the Caucus in the town you’re registered. For Needham/2018– you need to be at the NEWMAN SCHOOL (1155 Central Ave, Needham, MA 02492) before 10AM on Saturday, February 3. (other towns: check here)

How hard is it to be elected delegate? Depends on how many people run. Nominating convention years (like in 2018), 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? 2018 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.

Do I have to run to participate and make an impact? NO! You can –and should– come and vote at the caucuses for the delegate-hopefuls you believe will best represent your concerns at the Convention. People who are relatively engaged in politics but aren’t plugged into the party apparatus except for choosing to be “D” or “R” often do not realize that this is an important and subtantive way they can (and should) effect change. Go! Look for Progressive Needham presence and say hello! It’s good to connect with others who share your values and concerns, and we can help answer questions.

Want to help elect progressive delegates? Or run yourself as a progressive delegate? The secret to ‘winning’ is not hard–it’s simply being prepared and inviting (and ensuring they come) fellow Democrats whom you are recruiting to your candidate (or your candidacy).


Here are the steps:

(0) Be a registered Democrat

(1) organize, in advance, to run as a delegate, or work with others to elect your candidates
(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, they are entitled to vote and can vote for your candidates!

More questions? See the MassDems website and/or
email grassroots (at)


  • Be registered AS A DEMOCRAT to be Eligible to Vote for/Run As Delegate

  • February 3, 2018, 10 AM: Needham Caucus. Newman School. It’s important to be there BEFORE doors close at 10AM.

  • June 1-2, 2018, MA Dem Convention, Worcester MA


Click for: OTHER CAUCUS-RELATED POSTS  (Some are from previous years but the information is largely the same, apart from dates)

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