What is the Democratic Caucus & Convention Nominating Process?

The procedure used by the Madison County Democratic Committee for electing delegates to district conventions is established by the Virginia Democratic Central Committee and is set forth in the Democratic Party of Virginia Party Plan. The process of selecting Madison delegates (and the nominee) in 2017 has 4 steps:

  1. Madison County caucus, Thursday, April 20, 2017 beginning at 7:30 p.m. at the Madison Chamber of Commerce, 110 N. Main St., Madison, 22727.
  2. 30th House of Delegate District Democratic Convention, Saturday, April 29, 2017 beginning at 10 a.m. in the Culpeper County Democratic Committee Head Quarters located at 102 North Main Street, Culpeper, VA, 22701 on the second floor.
  3. 5th Congressional District Democratic Convention, Saturday, May 13, 2017 beginning at 12:00 noon at the Northside Library, 705 Rio Rd W, Charlottesville, VA 22901
  4. Candidate Certification, no later than 5:00 p.m. June 13, 2017. The candidate selected at the 30th House of Delegate District Democratic Convention will be certified as the duly selected Democratic Party nominee with the Virginia Department of Elections by the Chair of the 30th HoD Nominating Committee. This is the final step in the nominating process and ensures the Democratic Candidate is listed on the ballot for November 2017.

What is a caucus?

The County Caucus is the voter’s chance to help select the Democratic nominee to the 30th House of Delegates and the delegates to vote on the reorganization of the Virginia Democratic Central Committee. This process was selected instead of the more expensive and lengthy primary process.

At the caucus, participants vote for the Democratic candidate of their choice, with each candidate being awarded the proportion of delegates (who will attend the 30th HoD Convention) that corresponds to their percentage of support. At the same caucus, participants will vote for the members of the delegation to attend the Congressional Convention to elect members of the Virginia Central Committee.

There are two types of caucuses, assembled (also known as a mass meeting), and unassembled (sometimes called a firehouse primary). Madison County will hold an assembled caucus.

An assembled caucus is highly structured; typically there are speeches from the candidates (or their supporters). There is a definite starting time, with everyone meeting in the same room at the same time. The doors are “locked” and no one is admitted after the caucus begins. Those who leave during the caucus may not be allowed to return.

Democratic Caucus participation

As stated in the Democratic Party of Virginia’s Party Plan, participants in a caucus are required to sign a Caucus Participation form certifying that the participant:

  1. Is a Democrat;
  2. Is a registered voter within the county or city for which the caucus is held;
  3. Believes in the principles of the Democratic Party; and
  4. Does not intend to support any candidate who is opposed to a Democratic nominee in the next ensuing election.

 What happens at a Democratic County caucus?

Here are the steps we will observe at the Madison County caucus:

  1. Sign in.   A local volunteer will verify that you are a registered voter in Madison County and will check you in. Each attendee must fill out a caucus declaration form.
    1. Each participant who completes the sign-in receives a ballot ticket to vote.
  2. Elect a Caucus Chair and Secretary. The Chair of the Madison County Democratic Committee will serve as temporary chair until the permanent chair is elected. The caucus secretary will assist the chair. The Chair will appoint a Tellers committee and a timekeeper.
  3. Election of Delegates. Each county has been allotted a specific number of delegates to the district conventions, based on the number of registered voters in the county and the percentage that vote democratic. Any local Democratic voter may run as a delegate but they must have prefiled with the local Democratic Committee’s chair no less than 5 days prior to the caucus.  The top vote getters are automatically elected to serve as delegates.

Madison has been allotted the following number of delegates for the two conventions. These may or may not be the same people for each convention.

4 delegates and 2 alternates for the 30th HoD Democratic Convention on April 29.
3 delegates and 2 alternates for the 5th CD Democratic Convention on May 13.

  1. Election of Alternates. Alternates will vote at the conventions when a delegate is unable to attend.
  2. Candidate speeches. Supporters of each 30th district candidate will speak. The Chair will allow each candidate (or their representative supporter) to speak for 5 minutes and answer questions for 5 minutes. The order that candidates will speak will be determined by the order that candidates’ names appear on the ballot.
    1. The timekeeper will note 60 seconds, 30, 15, 5, & End for remarks and Q & A period.
  3. Ballots distributed. At the conclusion of the candidate or supporter remarks, the Chair will call on the Tellers Committee to exchange the ballot tickets for ballots.
  4. Vote. Participants will place their ballots in the ballot box.
    1. Once all of the ballots have been cast, the Chair will call for a recess while the Tellers Committee tallies the votes.
    2. At the conclusion of tallying, the Chair of the Tellers Committee will present the results to the Chair of the Caucus. The Caucus Chair will reconvene the Caucus and announce the results.
  5. Determination of delegates. The caucus chair will determine how many delegates and alternates each will be elected for each candidate.
    1. Any candidate that has fewer than 15% of the total voters present will be declared non-viable and those voters are free to join one of the viable groups.
    2. The members of each group will then vote for delegates and alternates who will represent Madison County at the two conventions. These results are “binding” and the delegates will be pledged to that candidate at least for the first round of voting at the convention.
  6. The Chair will ask for an amendment to adjourn the Caucus.

IMPORTANT: Any Democrat wishing to be a delegate or alternate to the 30th HoD District Convention AND/OR the 5th CD Convention must file a Delegate Prefiling form with the Chair of the Madison County Democratic committee, or designated representative, by the filing deadline – 5:00 p.m. on Thursday, April 13, 2017.           Signed forms may be emailed to chair@madisondems.org or by surface mail to P.O. Box 66, Leon, VA 22725. Only those delegate or alternate candidates who have filed by the deadline will appear on the ballots distributed at the caucus.