The DFL's Caucus & Convention Process
The DFL Party believes democracy starts at the grassroots. That is why we use precinct caucuses and conventions to endorse candidates, elect party leaders, and shape the party platform. These meetings are a great way to get involved in the democratic process and make your voice heard.
The Four Levels of DFL Caucuses and Conventions
The precinct is the first level of the DFL Party structure. A precinct is comprised of the voting precinct which can be a township, an entire town, or a voting precinct within a larger community. The precinct caucuses are a foundational pillar to the DFL Party’s grassroots history because all Minnesota constituents have the ability to participate at this level.
Those in attendance have an opportunity to speak with candidates, participate in a preferential ballot, and compose resolutions that have the potential to be forwarded to their local unit conventions and the state convention for deliberation for acceptance to the official DFL Ongoing Platform and Action Agenda.
Have a scheduling conflict on caucus night? Know your rights: Minnesota Statutes Section 202A.19 permits Minnesota residents to take time off from work without pay to attend precinct caucuses provided they give their employer written notice at least 10 days in advance. State universities, community colleges, and public schools may not hold classes or events after 6:00 p.m. on the evening of precinct caucuses. State agencies, school boards, county boards, township boards, city councils and all other political subdivisions may not conduct meetings after 6:00 p.m. on caucus night.
The Organizing Unit is the second level of the DFL Party structure. Delegates are elected to their Organizing Unit conventions at their local precinct caucuses. Then, these delegates will endorse candidates for the state legislature and choose delegates to move on to the state and congressional district conventions.
Organizing Units may be based on county, senate district or house district boundaries. In larger counties such as Anoka, Carver, Dakota, Hennepin, Ramsey, St. Louis, Scott, Stearns, Washington, and Wright, most Organizing Units are full Senate Districts. In these areas, the Organizing Unit and Senate District conventions are combined into one convention that both endorses legislative candidates and handles other party business. In areas where Organizing Units aren’t full Senate Districts, separate conventions are held to endorse candidates. (The different Organizing Units are defined in the Article V of the DFL Constitution.)
Like at the state party level, organizing unit and senate district conventions are generally held on even-numbered years, with a few exceptions. The organizing unit central and executive committees are the governing bodies of the organizing unit between conventions.
Organizing Unit/Senate District Convention Tasks:
- To endorse candidates for State Senate and House
- To conduct local party unit business
- To present and consider platform resolutions
- Elect Delegates to Congressional and State Conventions
The congressional district, an area established by law for the election of representatives to the U.S. Congress, is the third level in the DFL Party structure. The boundaries of congressional districts are determined by State legislature and are dependent on the population of the state and the number of U.S. representative seats given to Minnesota. In general, each congressional district is to be as equal in population to all other congressional districts in the State.
Between conventions, the congressional district central and executive committees are the governing bodies of a congressional district party unit. On even numbered years, Congressional district conventions are held with delegates who have been elected at the DFL organizing unit conventions.
Congressional District Convention Tasks:
- To endorse Minnesota candidates for U.S. Congress
- Elect members to State Commissions and committees for the State Convention
- Elect Delegates to the National Convention
The State Convention is the supreme governing body of the Minnesota DFL Party. At the 2020 State Convention, delegates will:
- Endorse candidates for governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, secretary of state and state auditor, and U.S. Senate.
- Elect DFL State Directors
- Present and deliberate amendments to the State DFL Constitution and Bylaws
- Consider proposed resolutions for inclusion in the DFL Ongoing Platform and Action Agenda
State Conventions are held on even-numbered years with over 1,300 voting delegates in attendance. The convention is open to the public, and is held in different parts of the state every two years. The State Central Committee is the governing body of the party between conventions.
Every four years, delegates at the State Convention also elect at-large representatives to serve on the Democratic National Committee along with the state party chair and vice chair.