Who is eligible to Become a Precinct Committee Officer
State law (RCW 29A.80.041) provides that "any member of a major political party who is a registered voter in the precinct may upon payment of a fee of one dollar file his or her declaration of candidacy as prescribed under RCW 29A.24.031 with the county auditor for the office of precinct committee officer of his or her party in that precinct. When elected at the primary, the precinct committee officer shall serve so long as the committee officer remains an eligible voter in that precinct."
Election of a Precinct Committee Officer
From RCW 29A.80.051: "The statutory requirements for filing as a candidate at the primaries apply to candidates for precinct committee officer. The office must be voted upon at the primaries, and the names of all candidates must appear under the proper party and office designations on the ballot for the primary for each even-numbered year, and the one receiving the highest number of votes will be declared elected. However, to be declared elected, a candidate must receive at least ten percent of the number of votes cast for the candidate of the candidate's party receiving the greatest number of votes in the precinct. The term of office of precinct committee officer is two years, commencing the first day of December following the primary."
Terms of Office
The term of office for anyone elected to the office of Precinct Committee Officer is two years, and commences December 1, 2012 and ends on November 30, 2014.
Vacancies and Appointed Precinct Committee Officers
Vacant PCO positions shall be filled by majority vote of the Executive Committee. An appointed PCO must be a registered voter in the precinct served. If a PCO resigns or moves out of a precinct, the PCO position is then vacant. Any TCDCC member may nominate a candidate to fill a vacant PCO position. All nominations shall be made in writing and submitted to TCDCC, P.O. Box 164, Olympia, WA 98507 or by sending an e-mail to the TCDCC First Vice Chair. The Executive Committee shall act on the nomination no later than the next meeting of the Executive Committee after nominations are received.
State law (RCW 29.42.030) used to provide that only elected PCOs may participate in the Legislative District and County reorganizations, therefore appointments to fill vacancies cannot be made between the state general election and the reorganization meeting of the county central committee, which must be held prior to the second Saturday in January following the election of Precinct Committee Officers. Current State Law, under RCW 29A.080 concerning Political Parties changes this requirement. Contact your local LD or County chair for details.
To apply for TCD Precinct Committee Officer, please fill out this PCO Application.
Duties and Responsibilities of Precinct Committee Officers
The following duties and responsibilities are commonly assigned to PCOs over the course of their tenure in office:
- Keep informed on current issues and candidates; review the party platform.
- Attend District meetings on a regular basis and actively participate in party events and activities.
- Obtain lists of registered voters from the County Auditor's office or District organization.
- Canvass the precinct and become acquainted with the voters residing therein.
- Establish a record of eligible voters and party members within the precinct and provide a list of identified Democrats to your District organization.
- Encourage voter registration within your precinct. (must turn any registration forms within 5 days)
- Distribute party election materials during election campaigns.
- Encourage voters to return ballot prior to end of election day.
- Hold precinct caucuses at certain selected times for the purpose of adopting resolutions and selecting delegates to legislative, county and state conventions.
- Gather useful data on voters such as: telephone number, e-mail addresses, age, ethnicity, and issues important to them.
The Thurston County Democrats have a database available (called VoteBuilder) that will identify
Democrats in your precinct with contact information. It can generate filtered walking lists for your precinct of "strong" Democrats, "moderate" Democrats, independents, etc. It would allow you generate separate lists for party events, meetings within a precinct, and general voter information, etc. to support your role as PCO.
Your role as a member of the TCD Central Committee
Each Precinct Committee Officer is a member of the County Central Committee, and as such is empowered to fulfill the following duties listed below:
The County Central Committee has the authority to fill vacancies on the party ticket for partisan county offices and for legislative offices in districts entirely within the county. This happens when no candidate files for a position or when a candidate or nominee is disqualified, leaving no candidate of that party for the office.
The County Central Committee may nominate persons for appointment to the offices stated above if an incumbent of that party resigns.
Minimum expectations of a Precinct Committee Officer
It is important to recognize that each Legislative District and County Organization should specify the duties and responsibilities expected from their Precinct Committee Officers. This should be done by the Executive Committee of the Organization in conjunction with the development of their two-year plan.
The following responsibilities are suggested to all Precinct Committee Officers as basic to the performance of any PCO in his/her elected or appointed capacity:
To canvass or telephone poll your precinct in coordination with election strategy.
To coordinate with campaigns in educating voters and generating interest in the election on behalf of candidates and ballot measures.
To attend the Legislative District and County Central Committee meetings.
These are the minimum effort level for a PCO to function adequately. There are many other avenues of service to the Democratic Party (committees, etc.) in which PCO's are welcome and encouraged to participate.
If you move from the Precinct in which you were elected to serve as PCO, you should contact the Chair of the District organization and submit your resignation so that a resident of the Precinct can be appointed to serve as PCO for that Precinct. If you have done your job as PCO, the new PCO will probably be someone that you have identified as a potential leader for the party.
Should you be unable to perform the minimum duties of the Precinct Committee Officer, you should do your best to find someone who can, and relinquish your position by submitting a letter of resignation to the county or district chair, or by informing them that you will not seek re-election to the position. It is very important that we have PCOs that are willing to perform their duties.
Proxies are selected by the Precinct Committee Officer. As a Proxy, you will be working closely with your PCO to canvas your precinct, gather and disseminate information and manage Precinct Committees.
If you are asked by your Precinct Committee Officer to become his/her proxy, you'll need to fill out the Proxy application and your PCO will sign it and give a copy of the application to the TCD 1st Vice Chair.
Caretaker Precinct Committee Officers
Caretaker PCOs are appointed to fill vacant positions in precincts for which the Caretaker PCO does not reside. It is the job of the Caretaker PCO is to recruit a PCO for that precinct. During that period, the Caretaker PCO will fulfill the duties of a PCO but they can not vote at TCD Central Committee meetings.