Precincts: The Foundation of Political Organization
What’s a precinct?
Unless you’ve been active – politically volunteering, working for a candidate, or registering votes – you may not know what a precinct is.
Simply, it’s a geographic unit that usually comprises neighborhoods or subdivisions of roughly 2,000 residents. Everyone in a precinct votes at the same location. So look around the next time you vote. Those folks in line are your neighbors.
Precincts are also the smallest political unit. Larger ones might be county council districts, statehouse districts, congressional districts.
Precincts are the same for both parties so your precinct will be a mix of Democrats, Republicans, Independents, and others.
To be effective, the Democratic party needs to know who our voters are in each precinct, have current and accurate contact information for them, make sure they are registered, and keep them informed about races and candidates.
And that’s the role of the precinct leadership and volunteers.
Your precinct leader should know you – and you should know them.
Getting out the vote
A critical job for precinct leaders is utilizing the knowledge they have about their districts on Election Day.
They should be contacting you to remind you to vote, ensure that you have a way to get to the polls. And on Election Day, they should be working the polls – monitoring poll workers interactions with voters, protecting the vote, and counting the votes as they come in. In a highly organized precinct, you might get a call from the precinct leader if you haven’t voted by mid-afternoon.
Being able to effectively ensure the highest possible Democratic turnout on Election Day is directly related to how well they know their voters.
Precinct Activation Project
In 2018, the GCDP began a countywide effort to strengthen the 151 precincts in the county. We added scores of new leaders taking on roles in precincts across the county. We organized contiguous precincts into clusters to streamline management, and offered training and vetted resources to precinct volunteers. Still we have several precincts without leadership.
Although technology has reduced many human interactions to a series of button presses on an app, connecting with voters is a person-to-person activity.
If you want to see change, getting involved at any level in your precinct is a great way to do it.
Precinct Reorganization, where new leadership is elected, takes place every other year. We last reorganized in March 2020. Anyone can attend, even if you just want to see democracy up close and personal. Learn more.
Want to hear more? Contact our precinct development co-chairs Leigh Learing and Paul Merlo.