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Forming a Country Committee: Step-by-Step Guidelines
Throughout this process, you should work hand-in-hand with your Regional Vice Chair, so make contact immediately. Your first step will be to hold a meeting with some core supporters to discuss how to find like-minded Americans. At this meeting, draft a schedule of what you hope to achieve over the next six months. Notify the DPCA Executive Director, so that the lead organizer can be added to the relevant contact lists for members of the DPCA. You will need to complete the Contact Information Form (see Appendix B1). The core organizers should be added to the DPCA-Leadership e-mail discussion group (see Section 2.2 and Appendix E5).
There are two different types of committees: full committees (50 or more members) and non-voting committees (less than 50 members). Full committees have met their election, publicity, and membership requirements, and have adopted bylaws. See Article 5 of the DPCA Charter (available online) for the details of those requirements. All membership lists must be maintained in the DPCA database; a member of your committee should have access to the database for your country at some point in this process.
Draw up your bylaws. The model bylaws approved by the DPCA Executive Committee can be found in Appendix B4.
Schedule a general meeting to vote on bylaws and to elect officers. Publicize this event. Request via the International Chair that details of this meeting be posted on the Democrats Abroad website (www.democratsabroad.org). Copies of print and other publicity must also be sent to the International Chair.
Elect officers. Remember that there must be gender balance in accordance with the bylaws of the Democratic National Committee: the Chair and Vice Chair must be of the opposite sex. Within the Democratic Party, all voting must be public rather than secret: this means voting by show of hands, voice vote or signed ballot. (These are Party rules!) See the model election guidelines in Appendix E1.
Report the results of the election to the International Secretary. You must submit signed minutes of the meeting. A copy of the approved bylaws must also be forwarded to the International Secretary. The DPCA will then have to vote to approve admission of the local committee based on the documents submitted by it.
Assign database administration rights to appropriate officers, and have them sign data confidentiality agreements.
Build momentum by scheduling regular meetings, communicating with oneanother, and holding voter registration and informational events and forums of various kinds.
Come join us at international and regional meetings — you’ll leave with lots of great ideas and helpful contacts. It will give you a lot more impetus to keep going, knowing that you are not alone.
Make sure you meet certain compliance requirements, such as certifying membership as of December 31 each year to the International Chair. (See Section 1.3: Maintaining Country Committee Compliance, below.)
Ensure your committee is always in compliance with party rules and not conducting activity that would require it to register with the US Federal Election Commission (FEC). Of course, your committee must never violate US or local law.
Hold elections every 2 years following Model Election Guidelines, available in the appendices.
And, of course, let the DPCA officers, your Regional Vice Chair, and the Executive Director know if there is anything we can do to help make all of this any easier. That, after all, is what we are here for.
See also Appendix B2: Jump-Start a Committee and Appendix B3: First Step, The Organizational Meeting.
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