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Campaign Terms and Definitions List

Click in the bounding box of the item for which you wish to view the definition.

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    Term: Alternate Judge
    Definition:

    One of two Election Judges at a polling place. The AJ acts as an ordinary clerk at the polling place unless the Presiding Judge (PJ) needs help. See “Election Judge”

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    Term: Block Walking
    Definition:

    Face-to-face conversations with targeted voters about why they are supporting a campaign is the most effective way to encourage others to join in and vote in elections. Having one-on-one conversations with these voters is how we win elections.

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    Term: Canvassing
    Definition:

    Block walking, knocking on residential doors to find and talk with voters. The typical script includes a party preference question, a voting suggestion, handing out candidate information, and a request for volunteer time and/or donations.

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    Term: County Chair
    Definition:

    Elected head of a political party’s county office.

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    Term: County Executive Committee (CEC)
    Definition:

    The governing body of HCDP, composed of the County Chair, elected officers (Secretary and Treasurer), and Precinct Chairs.

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    Term: Cutting Turf
    Definition:

    Dividing up neighborhoods for canvassing teams. Typically done with VAN by precinct chairs or campaign staff.

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    Term: DCCC
    Definition:

    Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. DCCC is the official campaign arm of the Democrats in the House.

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    Term: Democratic National Committee (DNC)
    Definition:

    The Democratic National Committee (DNC) is the formal governing body for the United States Democratic Party. The committee coordinates strategy to support Democratic Party candidates throughout the country for local, state, and national office. It organizes the Democratic National Convention held every four years to nominate and confirm a candidate for president, and to formulate the party platform. While it provides support for party candidates, it does not have direct authority over elected officials. The DNC is composed of the chairs and vice-chairs of each state Democratic Party committee and over 200 members elected by Democrats in all 50 states and the territories. Its chairperson is elected by the committee. It conducts fundraising to support its activities

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    Term: Direct Mail
    Definition:

    Direct mail is a great way to “drive a message” to voters.

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    Term: DSCC
    Definition:

    Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee

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    Term: Early Voting
    Definition:

    In Texas, 11 or 12 days ending on the Friday before the Tuesday election, during which a voter can cast a ballot in any of several locations in their county of residence. A map of Harris County EV locations and times is posted at www.HarrisVotes.org.

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    Term: Election Judge
    Definition:

    A trained, paid official who runs a poll, handling the paperwork, managing the clerks, and enforcing election laws on site. There are two at each poll; the Presiding Judge carries all the responsibility and has authority over the Alternate Judge. During primaries, the parties run separate parallel elections, and the paired election judges are from the same party. During general elections, the presiding judge is from the party that had the majority of voters in that precinct in the most recent gubernatorial election, and the alternate is from the other major party (if possible). The Republican and Democratic county parties compile lists of election judge volunteers every election cycle. The lists typically consist of current precinct chairs, past election judges, and others who have indicated an interest in serving as election judge. The Harris Country Commissioner’s Court has final approval of appointments, which are for a one-year term. Election judges are trained and paid by the Harris County Clerk each time there is an election. Election judges cannot hold an elective public office, be a candidate for public office, be employed by or related to a candidate for public office, be the campaign manager or campaign treasurer for a candidate in that election, or have been convicted of an offense in connection with an election.

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    Term: Election Judge Functions
    Definition:

    Election Judges (EJ) are appointed each year by Harris County Commissioners from a list of qualified persons submitted by each political party. If possible, Election Judges should reside in the precinct they represent.

    § Judges pick up required election equipment shortly before an election, mark early voters in the poll book, locate clerks to work at their polling location, organize the setup of the election equipment and the operation of the election, and return the equipment immediately after the polls close;

    § Judges are responsible for following Texas Election Law and conducting a fair election. Although each judge represents a political party, no display of any party affiliation is allowed during the election; Judges are paid for the time they work at the polls and for training attended; § Required to use County-appointed election judges whenever possible; § Fill vacant slots as necessary.

    § Presiding Judges are not responsible to secure the Alternate Judge. However, PJs are responsible for securing clerks and language assistants/interpreters.

    § Mail writ of appointment to each Election Judge (County Clerk’s Office responsibiliity)

    § Mail training schedule, number of clerks, language assistants/interpreters if needed, notice of polling location, supply pick up and election night turn in location. (County Clerk’s Office responsibiliity)”

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    Term: Executive Committee Members
    Definition:

    CEC or SDEC. CEC consists of the county party’s precinct chairs and county chair. SDEC (State Democratic Executive Committee) consists of all the Senate Districts’ elected officers.

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    Term: Field Organizing
    Definition:

    Field organizing is the act of reaching out to voters through direct, one-on-one communication. Some people refer to it as “voter contact” or “grassroots organizing,” but the ultimate goal is to contact voters directly, identify the ones who support you, and get them to the polls to vote for you on Election Day. Most people think that field organizing takes place in the last two months of the campaign (September and October). However, effective organizing is the result of year-round efforts that culminate in activities designed to mobilize your vote. ”

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    Term: GOTV
    Definition:

    The most important element in every election is getting voters to the polls—these get-out-the-vote (GOTV) efforts make the difference between winning and losing office.

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    Term: Harris County Democratic Party (HCDP)
    Definition:

    The county level of the party. They are responsible for staffing the primaries, and assist the county with all partisan elections (primary and general). They have an office, meeting space, a tiny staff, and accept volunteers. They maintain this website and direct the Senate District organizations.

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    Term: Knock and Drag
    Definition:

    This usually teams of volunteers who have vans that can “knock” on supporters doors who have not voted and “drag” them to the polls.

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    Term: Phone Banking
    Definition:

    Phone-banking is a critical part of any get-out-the-vote (“GOTV”) effort. It involves gathering with like-minded Democrats using computer software and cell phones to call potential voters and ask for their help turning Texas blue. We have upcoming races for the Pasadena City Council and we could use all the help we can get! Training is provided. If you can use a computer mouse and dial a phone, you can help get out the vote for this important upcoming election!

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    Term: Poll
    Definition:

    A polling place where voters vote. Ideally, one poll per precinct.

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    Term: Precinct
    Definition:

    The smallest political subdivision in Texas. Consists of all the registered voters living within a legislatively defined boundary. Typically bounded by major streets, waterways, and/or parks, and containing up to 5000 registered voters. Ideally, each precinct will have a poll for those voters to vote at on Election Day. If not, then they will vote in a neighboring precinct. Each precinct usually has both an elected Democratic and Republican Precinct Chair.

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    Term: Precinct Chair
    Definition:

    As elected or appointed officials for a two year term, Precinct Chairs are responsible for: Working with others to mobilize and organize voters and get them to the polls Representing their precinct on the County Executive Committee Bridging the gap between voters and elected officials Serves as the contact person for the Democratic Party in their neighborhood

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    Term: Precinct Chair Coordinator
    Definition:

    The Precinct Chair Coordinator is a volunteer position within the HCDP, tasked with keeping track of precinct chair applications, appointments, and resignations, as well as maintaining the official HCDP Precinct Chair Roster.

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    Term: Presiding Judge
    Definition:

    Teams of two judges are appointed for each precinct. The presiding judge (PJ) is from the party that received the most votes for Governor in the last gubernatorial election.

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    Term: Rides the the Polls
    Definition:

    Sometimes transportation is an obstacle to voting, othertimes intimidation is. Giving someone a ride directly to the poll is the great way to ensure that they vote.

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    Term: Robert's Rules of Order
    Definition:

    Rules governing parliamentary procedure in all Party meetings - see www.rulesonline.com.

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    Term: SDEC
    Definition:

    State Democratic Executive Committee

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    Term: Senate Democratic Executive Committee (SDEC)
    Definition:

    A body consisting of elected representatives from every Senate District in Texas. Each Senate District sends the following representatives: chair, secretary, vacancy chair, committee man, and committee woman.

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    Term: Senate Districts
    Definition:

    A level in the state party organizational structure determined by the boundaries of the state senators’ districts. The body of an SD consists of all the precinct chairs within the district, plus elected officers. Some SDs choose to hold regular meetings. At some CEC meetings, the SDs caucus afterwards. State Senate District conventions are held in even years, on a Saturday after the primaries. At that time delegates to the state party convention are selected by precinct caucus. SDs also elect a chair, secretary, vacancy chair, and two delegates (man & woman) to the State Democratic Executive Committee (SDEC).

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    Term: Standing Committees
    Definition:

    Standing committees of HCDP are: Rules Committee, Primary Committee, Resolutions Committee, Finance Committee, and Audit Committee. Their functions are described in the HCDP By-Laws on this website under “Our Party.”

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    Term: Steering Committee
    Definition:

    Serves as an advisory committee to the HCDP Chair, sets the agenda for the CEC meetings, and can act on behalf of the CEC between meetings; members of the Steering Committee are: the County Chair, Secretary, Treasurer, the Senate District chairs and secretaries who reside in Harris County, the chairs of standing committees, any Democratic National Committee members residing in Harris County, any State Democratic Executive Committee members residing in Harris County, and an at-large member appointed by the County Chair.

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    Term: Sustaining Members
    Definition:

    Every person can be a stakeholder in our Party. Sustaining Members are an important part of our backbone. To become a Sustaining Member, donate at least $120 (at once, or through monthly payments of $10 or more) for an individual membership or $200 (at once or through monthly payments of $17 or more) for a family membership. By making a contribution you will help us keep our lights on, pay our employees, maintain a database of Democratic voters and activists, run the primary elections, help to disseminate information to our voters and encourage grassroots activities. In short, your contribution helps us conduct the official business of our Democratic Party here in Harris County. We hope you will consider becoming a Sustaining Member and help us fight to regain a Democratic majority in Texas.

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    Term: Texas Democratic Party (TDP)
    Definition:

    Governing body of the Democratic Party in Texas. Party officers include the State Chair, elected officers, and State Democratic Executive Committee (SDEC) members. The party is governed by the SDEC as defined in the party rules. For more information, go to www.texasdemocrats.org.

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    Term: Vacancy Chair/Committee
    Definition:

    According to HCDP Rules and Bylaws, Article VIII, each Senate District is to have a 6-member Vacancy Committee headed by a Vacancy Chair. If the SD chooses to subdivide into sections, all the section leaders are on the SD’s vacancy committee under the leadership of the Vacancy Chair. Members are tasked with recruiting and nominating eligible Democrats to fill vacant precinct chair positions within their districts. The Vacancy Chair also vets applicants and submits to their SD vacancy committee for their vote.

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    Term: Vacant Precinct
    Definition:

    A political precinct with no precinct chair is referred to as a “vacant” precinct.

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    Term: Volunteer Deputy Voter Registrar (VDVR)
    Definition:

    Texas election law provides for County Voter Registrars to designate individuals to assist in the registration of eligible persons to vote. These individuals are appointed as Volunteer Deputy Registrars and operate under State rules and the supervision of the County Voter Registrar - see www.hctax/voter/deputy.

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    Term: Vote By Mail (VBM)
    Definition:

    A means of voting via the postal system. Originally, it was called Absentee Voting, and restricted to those who would be out of the county on Election Day. Now, everyone over 65 automatically qualifies, as does anyone claiming to be disabled. You can apply for a mail ballot at www.HarrisVotes.org.

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    Term: Voter Activation Network (VAN)
    Definition:

    The Voter Activation Network (VAN) is the voter file that we use to track all of our voters. It is maintaied by the state party, TDP. The VAN is an online database that allows us to organize information about voters and volunteers to ensure we’re targeting the right voters and turning them out to vote, while making campaigns more efficient and effective and allowing campaigns and activists to track their projects and successes. At election time, this powerful database allows Democrats to ensure that our communities are registered to vote and allows us to encourage everyone to make it to the ballot box.

Please contact us at harrisdemocrats@harrisdemocrats.com or use our Contact Us form if you have questions or concerns.

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