Frequently Asked Questions!
Stonewall DFL Annual Membership Meeting
Frequently Asked Questions
Am I allowed to participate as my authentic self?
Yes. Of course. This is your caucus. Everyone in the room is there to support each other participate in the political process as their authentic selves. While we likely will disagree on issues and campaigns, personal attacks will not be tolerated. Please let us know your preferred pronouns to use as part of the introduction.
How did XXX get added to the agenda?
Any member in good standing can ask for an item to be added to the agenda, the “proposed agenda” reflects that. Membership meetings are member driven. If the will of the body is to amend the agenda (add or remove items for example) the easiest time to have those discussions is during the agenda approval process as it only takes a majority vote. It becomes much harder to amend the agenda after it is approved as it takes a 2/3rd vote to change the agenda.
What can happen during an endorsement vote?
Many things can happen but typically:
- A Member in good standing will nominate a candidate to be considered for the endorsement vote.
- A nomination must be made by name only and must not be accompanied by any speech or demonstration. Candidates speeches should have occurred elsewhere on the agenda already by this time.
- If more than one candidate is nominated by members a Ballot or up to 6 total ballots will be taken.
In a vote where there are more than 2 candidates drop rules apply. Candidates with less than 10% on the first ballot are dropped from consideration on the 2nd ballot. Candidates with less than 20% on the 2nd ballot are dropped from consideration on the 3rd ballot. Candidates with less than 30 % on the third ballot are dropped from consideration on the 4th ballot. Candidates with less than 1/3% on the 4th ballot are dropped before the 5th ballot. If the endorsement threshold of 60% or more is not met after 6 ballots there is no endorsement in this race at that time.
If a candidate gets 60% or more of all valid votes cast, they are Stonewall DFL endorsed.
What if I don’t know enough about a candidate or their race to endorse?
The simplest thing to do is to write No Endorsement and sign your ballot during the balloting process. No one is required to write any candidate name down. An Abstention or No Endorsement votes are also perfectly valid votes to cast. Persons should not make uninformed votes. There is always more time to learn about a candidate. If you are not ready to vote for anyone, then don’t.
Another option is to rate all/some candidates with a rating of some sort. An A rating or B rating has been used in the past as well as “Acceptable”. Our rules allow for this, but this is often harder to get people to agree on this as some of the same discussions just occur here.
A motion to suspend the rules to halt balloting in a race is valid after the first ballot is taken.
Can the board endorse in a race if we do not endorse at the annual meeting?
Yes, unless restricted to do so. Membership may also ask the board to prioritize a race or restrict them in any number of ways. A core function of the board is to facilitate a screening and endorsement process. If membership does not want that to happen they should be clear on that or a race is still likely to be taken up again later in the year and certainly after the DFL party unit endorses in that race.
Why do we endorse?
Supporting our Stonewall DFL endorsed candidates thru Precinct caucuses and through their local party unit convention is where we have the greatest impact to help candidates who make our issues their priority. While many campaigns “support” our issues it is not enough to vote the right way, it is required that campaigns take the lead on our issues too. The earlier we help a candidate the better for them and for us.
Was Candidate X invited or Why wasn’t candidate Y invited too?
Membership meetings are member driven activities. Unless you as a member personally invited them, it is unlikely they were invited. Invite them. It’s your caucus! If you think it’s important that everyone hears from Candidate X for a few minutes I am sure most of us would welcome that.
Is IRV or RCV allowed?
We do not have any rules in place to allow for RCV at a membership meeting. In practice people like multiple ballots to allow time to persuade others after a candidate with weaker support drops. The board has used RCV on some endorsement ballots in the past.
Why is it taking so long?
A tactic used by some is to run out the clock so people get tired and leave. Others simply want everything to be exactly the way they want it to be and don’t care if it takes a bit to get it right. There is no right or wrong answer here as its very subjective. We have rules in place to both allow for discussions and to limit discussions. If you think something is taking too long a motion may be made to restrict or extend debate on anything. If you think something is important to you please seek to be recognized by the meeting chair. Persons may have the right to speak on every issue, but that doesn’t mean that is effective. Democracy takes time, it’s a messy process at times. The Meeting chair is skilled to move things along, chances are if you are frustrated they are too. Help them out with a motion to close debate or to call the question.
Who do I ask for help/questions during the meeting?
Ask the person next to you for help or ask the meeting chair with a “point of order”. They are there to help you. There are also resources online to assist with parliamentary procedures.
Why are members voting for endorsements instead of the board this year?
The board is subservient to membership. Membership can do whatever it wants to do. Members have asked to have binding endorsement votes this cycle for a number of reasons so steps were taken to remind members of this ability. Having members endorse directly has been a long-time practice of Stonewall DFL until recent years, as it is the best way to have the highest participation of active caucus members involved in the endorsement process. Members have always had this ability at any properly called membership meeting. In the past, the board has helped facilitate this process by having questionnaires and getting candidates on the record on our issues, but for races where membership is already in agreement, there is no need to make candidates wait any longer as we often have our best impact by endorsing early before Precinct caucus night. With the earlier Precinct caucuses this year, it also made sense to remind members of this ability they have.
What are some downsides to having membership endorse instead of the board?
Since a candidate or campaign has not filled out a campaign questionnaire there is no way to get campaigns on the record on our issues. Another downside is endorsing a candidate before all of them have declared means we may miss out on supporting a candidate that is better on our issues. It disadvantages an unknown challenger to a well-known incumbent.
What are the upsides to Membership endorsing a candidate instead of the board?
Party officers are required to actively support our endorsed candidates and will know who some of them are prior to being elected. Having a full complement of board members fundraising and supporting our endorsed candidates is how we help them win their elections. Why force candidate X thru a long questionnaire and a board endorsement process if they already have wide support of our caucus members? Previously elected LGBTIQ candidates also can use this early process so they can be focused on winning their race again, rather than internal debates. It is an advantage to the incumbent who likely has been through this process once already. Getting the easier or more divisive decisions out of the way allows the all-volunteer Board to focus their limited time on other races rather than the “no-brainer” races. Time is always the one thing we never have enough of.