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Town and Ward Committee Digital Reorganization Toolkit

You’re about to reorganize, but what does that mean anyway?

It comes directly from Chapter 52, Section 4 of the Mass General Laws. Town and Ward Committees shall cease to exist 30 days following the Presidential Primary:

“Each city, ward and town committee shall within ten days after the thirtieth day next following the election of its members, meet and organize by the choice of a chairman, a secretary, a treasurer and such other officers as it may decide to elect”

Between April 3 and April 12, town and ward committee members elected on the March 3 Presidential Primary ballot will meet for the first time as a new committee and elect their officers:

  • Chair (required)
  • Vice or Co-Chair of the opposite sex 
  • Secretary (required)
  • Treasurer (required, may not be a public employee, may not be same individual as chair)
  • Affirmative Action Officer

Returning chairs–or the first person listed on the ballot–should have received a list of committee members and reorganization instructions from the Secretary of the Commonwealth. If you did not receive these results, you should reach out to your local election official for a list of members. New committees are encouraged to contact their State Committee Members to help them organize–their first vote should be to elect a chair to run the rest of the meeting.

Virtual Participation

Due to the evolving COVID-19 situation, we’re expecting that the vast majority of these meetings will be conducted via phone or video conferencing. A more detailed guide can be found here, but here’s what you need to know when it comes to scheduling, planning, and running your meeting:

Step 1. Give members plenty of notice.

Let folks know about your meeting at least 7 days in advance and post the details of the meeting publicly. Email your membership and don’t be afraid to follow up with a phone call the day before the meeting. You can find an example of a public notice here

Step 2. Choose your conferencing tool.

From Zoom.us to UberConference, there are many different tools you can use to host your meetings. The most important things? Make sure the tool allows for phone participation and allows the organizer to mute and unmute participants. If you do use an option that allows computer/visual participation, choose one that allows the participant to register by name. 

Zoom is one of MassDems go-to tools:

  • Free for up to 100 participants but limited to 40 minutes at a time
    • Paid accounts are $14.99/ month
  • Administered on computer through the Zoom app
    • Participants can dial in or join through the computer
  • Register participants ahead of time through email or Google calendar invite. 

A list of more options can be found here. Leading up to your meeting, we’ll be hosting a series of trainings on Zoom.us. Sign up for a training by emailing contact@massdems.org.

Tuesday, 4/7
11:00 AM
7:00 PM

Wednesday, 4/8
12:00 PM
6:00 PM

Thursday, 4/9
12:00 PM
6:00 PM

Friday, 4/10
11:00 AM
1:00 PM


Step 3. Ask for help.

Most importantly: test, test, test. Make sure you know how the tool works before you start your meeting. Take time to familiarize yourself with the functions, and try to troubleshoot any difficulties ahead of time.  Set up a trial conference with your family or friends beforehand or invite members to a pre-call to work out the kinks and give people information about how the meeting will work.

It’s difficult to manage participants and run the meeting at the same time. We recommend that you recruit two volunteers to help with the technical aspects of the call. These volunteers should be in charge of muting and unmuting speakers, communicating with members who are having technical difficulties, and maintaining your roll and tracking votes during balloting.  Share a separate phone number that invited members can call or text if they are having problems logging/dialing in.

Step 4. Set the rules and agenda.

In advance of your meeting, send members the meeting agenda and the rules for the call. Additionally, you should:

  • Let them know how virtual participation tools will work, including how to mute and unmute themselves, and ask questions.
  • Inform them that you’ll be taking a roll call vote, so it’s important that they register using their full name, and that their vote will be public. 
  • Provide the contact information of your volunteers, and instruct members to call them if they have any technical difficulties registering, joining the call, or during the meeting.

Step 5. Start your call!

It’s time to hold your meeting! Remember: the purpose of your call is to elect these officers:

  • Chair (required)
  • Vice or Co-Chair of the opposite sex 
  • Secretary (required)
  • Treasurer (required, may not be a public employee, may not be same individual as chair)
  • Affirmative Action Officer

Here are our pro-tips for hosting an online meeting:

  • Start your call 10-15 minutes before your scheduled start time to greet folks as they hop on and give yourself time to sort out technical difficulties. 
  • Begin the meeting by muting all participants, or instructing them to mute themselves.
  • Explain the process of the call, the agenda, how you’ll take votes, and how participants can unmute themselves and ask questions.
  • Offer the phone number of your volunteers in case there are technical difficulties.
  • Make sure you speak slowly, clearly, and repeat any important information. Votes should be repeated back fully with the voters name and vote:

Chair: Erin Smith, you may vote for 3 attendees: 1 male, 1 female and one of any gender. How do you vote?
Erin: I vote for Mike, Sally and Jessica
Chair: Erin Smith votes for Mike Rushing, Sally Murphy and Jessica Simons. Is that correct?
Erin: Yes.
Chair: Thank you. Phil Smith, you may vote for 3 attendees: 1 male, 1 female and one of any gender. How do you vote?

  • Call on voters in an expected and regular way, we recommend alphabetically.
  • End your call by reiterating the phone numbers of your tech volunteer so people can report any technical issues they may have had. 

Step 6. Follow up.

Don’t forget to follow up with members after the call! Email or call people and reconfirm the results, repeat any important information, and ask for feedback!

For the Chair

Congratulations on being elected Chair of your committee! To get started, take a look at our Chair’s Manual. As a Chair, it’s your job to:

  • Look for and execute opportunities for your committee to help elect Democrats!
  • Call and run regular committee meetings, including your annual caucus to select delegates to the Democratic State Convention
  • Make sure all paperwork for your committee is current, in conjunction with your committee’s Secretary
  • Oversee your committee’s finances, in conjunction with your Treasurer
  • Act as the principal spokesperson for the party in your town or ward, taking initiative in outreach communications tasks.
  • Engage in recruitment efforts, and welcome those interested in getting involved in your committee!

Each town and ward committee is governed by its own by-laws. As a new chair, reach out to former officers for a copy of their local by-laws. If your committee is completely new, our Model By-Laws (Appendix D of the Chair’s Manual) are in effect for your committee until you’re able to set your own.

Associate Members and Filling Vacancies

Depending on your local by-laws, a committee can have an unlimited number of associate members, or members who may participate in discussion, but do not vote or they vote in a limited capacity. If your committee is full, it’s a great way to recognize active participants when there are no open membership slots. 

If you have vacancies on your committee (if the number of people elected to the committee was less than the maximum number of members you specified to the Secretary of the Commonwealth on your nomination papers; between 3 and 35), existing members may vote to add new members. Priority of considerations should be given to associate members. 

Don’t Forget!

Get the login information for any email accounts and social media accounts for your committee from the outgoing chair, or set up new accounts for your committee! Update the Votebuilder admin for your committee by contacting jeremy@massdems.org or, if you’re a completely new committee, submit a Votebuilder request form!

For the Treasurer

Are you a newly elected Treasurer? Check out the Office of Campaign and Political Finance (OCPF) guide for local party committees. 

Following the meeting, the Treasurer must file a Statement of Organization (CPF-101), which they and the Secretary must sign, with the following offices:

  • OCPF
  • Secretary of the Commonwealth
  • Massachusetts Democratic Party
  • Local clerk or election commission. 

The Secretary should keep another copy for their records.

Questions?

Feel free to call us at (617) 939-0800, or email contact@massdems.org with any other questions, comments or concerns you may have. 

 

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