Precinct Conventions – 6 Things They Never Tell You!
By David Whitehead Jr.
1.) Take some folding chairs!
Often Precinct Conventions take place in Elementary School gymnasiums and cafeterias, where there is not an adult sized chair in sight. In my precinct we are given the cafeteria, and all the movable furniture is locked away by the custodians every night, and nothing is left but the tables with these built in stools made for small children. We all looked rather silly attempting to sit on these tiny things while making motions and deliberating.
I have spoken to others who have their meeting on the pullout bleachers in the gymnasium. Bring some chairs; you will feel far more dignified.
2.) Sometimes nobody shows up!
This can be rather disappointing, especially if you have been working your precinct. Unfortunately, in the middle of all the campaigning leading up to Election Day, we forget to remind people about the convention. The convention becomes more of an afterthought, particularly if you are serving as an Election Judge. Attendance can be greatly boosted however, simply by including a flyer about it in the paraphernalia you hand out to your neighbors when you are block walking.
3.) Not everyone who attends is a friend!
The Republican Party has its schisms. Sometimes a group of Republicans from your precinct can show up to attempt to “take over” and run the precinct convention their way, and run their own delegates and resolutions through. It might seem unfair and uncomfortable, but this is Democracy at its finest.
However, in some states, Democrats cross over and vote in the Republican Primary in order to upset the apple cart, and part of their apple cart demolition is attending the Precinct Convention and attempting to usurp the leadership, and cause disruption, strife, and chaos.
Don’t let them do it.
One of the powers you have as the Temporary Chair is to appoint a Temporary Sergeant at Arms, and your Sergeant at Arms has the power to remove anyone who is there to disrupt, filibuster, or make trouble. It is against the law to disrupt a Precinct Convention so that it cannot do its business, and you can call the police on anyone who attempts to stop that business from taking place. If these Democrats in Republican clothing follow the rules of the convention however, there is little that can be done to resist their participation.
4.) Being replaced as Convention Chair can be awkward and embarrassing!
Be ready for this. It happens, and it’s not fun. We tell ourselves it won’t matter if we are replaced, but the actual moment in which it occurs can be hurtful if we are not expecting it, and the act of getting up from the front desk or seat and allowing someone else to take our place can feel very awkward. Let’s face it, there is no way to do it as gracefully as we would like.
At such a time I am always tempted to do something funny to kill the awkwardness of the moment like mock weeping, besides, a round of laughter makes me feel better and makes a much better transition than embarrassed people all looking at the floor. By all means be gracious and humble, and remember that acting patronizing makes you look bad. (Ask me how I know!)
5.) A Precinct Convention can go on and on!
Unless your state has a provision for this, the convention can deliberate on and on and on. Bring something to drink. I even bring something to eat! My conventions have never lasted more than 90 minutes, but I have heard of one that went past midnight. Fourteen people showed up and relentlessly went over the wording of resolutions for hours. (By the way, send me your Precinct Convention horror stories; I would love to add them to an upcoming booklet I am writing on the subject!)
6.) Attendees are your best prospects for Block Captains and Street Commanders!
Don’t let these fish swim away! You have here before you all in one place some of the most active and patriotic Republicans one could ever find! Anyone who attends a Precinct Convention whether for good or ill is someone very interested in the political process and you must follow up on them and put their zeal to work for you reaching your precinct!
It might not be a great idea to ask them then and there to volunteer to be part of your precinct organization, but remember that the Secretary has the contact information for everyone who is attending, and making a copy of that list for yourself to reach them at a later time is perfectly acceptable!
Next month: “7 Smart Things to do AFTER your Precinct Convention!”
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