MA Civics 101: What happens at the 2018 Endorsing Convention?


You are about to hear a lot of talk in Democratic groups about ‘go to your caucus!’ ‘run for delegate!’ We’ll have lots of information on how to do that, but lets talk about what happens once you are a delegate – that way you know if its something you want to do.

When & Where: Friday night, June 1 & Saturday, June 2 at the Convention Center in Worcester, MA.

What: This is where Democratic candidates gather enough support to get their names on the ballot for the primary and general elections in the fall, commonly called the mid-term elections.  To get on the ballot candidates must get at least 15% of the delegate vote.  The candidate in each race who gets the majority of the votes is called ‘the endorsed candidate of the Massachusetts Democratic Party’.  If someone is running unopposed by a Democrat they must be voted on favorably by a majority of delegates present.

  1. The order of business will include:
    1. Call to order/Declaration of a Quorum by the Chair
    2. Invocation
    3. National Anthem
    4. Party Endorsement
    5. Consideration of any Charter Amendments
    6. Other Business determined essential by the Chairperson of the Democratic State Committee

How: The exact schedule is still being shaped because the period for people announce their candidacy is still open which means we don’t know how many candidates there are.  Some voting will happen on Friday night, probably including any uncontested races, so it is important that you plan to attend both June 1 & 2.  Saturday is more straightforward.  You sign in as you enter the convention center and make your way to your district’s seating area.  You check in again with your teller.  There are speakers as you are signing in and as roll call is happening (but fewer and shorter than in 2017).  Then race by race the voting starts, the order of business calls this the ‘Party Endorsement’ segment of the convention. Each potential candidate for an office gets a few minutes to speak, then the vote is held.  Unlike the 2017 platform convention where only voice votes and standing votes were used this will be primarily role call votes using tally books or electronic voting.  The only time voice votes will be used will be for when someone is running uncontested – that will use a voice vote and they need to get the majority of the votes present.  When one race has been decided they will move onto the next one. Delegates will get the names of candidates in advance so you can be familiar with them, but remember the people you are seated with will hear which way you vote. This is a group exercise, and you are representing the people at your caucus who voted to send you to the convention.

Why go: This is a great chance to see how names end up on the ballot and to interact with politicians and activists from across the state.  You’ll hear from people you typically only see on the news, meet other state Senators and Representatives, get to know other active folks in your district, gain a better understanding of how the official machinery of the party works and see some young politicians who are currently working their way up the ranks for you to keep an eye on.  For ATMA members, its a great opportunity to meet other members from across the state in real life so the discussions in our group can become deeper conversations and so that we can be united in our efforts to work legislation that benefits all of Massachusetts, Berkshires to beaches.

More information on the rules and delegate voting process can be found here: https://massdems.org/convention/2018-convention

Also available on our website:  https://actiontogetherma.com/resources/2018-ma-democratic-caucus-convention-information/