The official title of a precinct delegate is “Delegate to County Convention” – so, it’s important that you understand exactly WHY county conventions are held and the functional elements defining HOW they are operated.
Four county conventions take place in each 2-year term:
3 of 4 county conventions are for selecting state delegates and alternates to attend state convention (Fall Conventions, Winter Conventions & Spring Conventions)
1 of 4 county conventions is for electing party leadership for the County Executive Committee (November Conventions)
For a better idea of when these take place, check out the Convention Cycle on this page.
Select State Delegates & Alternates
The number of state delegates and alternates each county gets to select is decided by the MRP State Committee based off the last election results for President. Allotment is set by congressional district first, and then by county (or county portion).
Statewide Totals: 2000 State Delegates, 2000 State Alternates
Congressional District 1 represented 10% of votes for President in past election…CD1 gets 10% of the Statewide Total: 200 State Delegates, 200 State Alternates.
Grand Traverse County represented 20% of votes for President in past election in Congressional District 1…Grand Traverse gets 20% of the CD1 Total: 40 State Delegates, 40 State Alternates.
Voting By Congressional District
Allotment is set by congressional district, and voting at state convention takes place by congressional district…naturally, voting at county conventions also takes place by congressional district.
A county is overlapped by two congressional districts: CD1 and CD2. Total county allotment is 200 state delegates and 200 state alternates.
The county portion overlapped by CD1 represented 60% of votes for President in past election…this county portion gets 60% of the county allotment and would caucus separately at county convention to select 120 State Delegates and 120 State Alternates.
Precinct Delegates and “Delegates At Large” are given preference if they are present at county convention or give prior notification to the party. More details are given below on regarding precinct delegates and “delegates at large” – the Voters at County Conventions.
The county convention body may authorize a percentage of their allotment of state delegates to be “Hard-Working Republicans” and choose individuals to give this “HWR” status to.
After all precinct delegates, “delegates at large” and “hard-working Republicans” are given preference, the county convention body may select any Non-Precinct Delegate to be a state delegate or alternate.
Elect New County Executive Committee Members
Half of a county executive committee is Statutory Members – the other half is Elected Members.
Michigan election law defines statutory members as all those who won the party nomination in the most recent primary election for county offices and state legislative offices – this is regardless of whether these party nominees win in the general election against the Democrat.
The number of Elected Members chosen by delegates at county convention is equal to the number of Statutory Members.
Governing Laws & Rules
The order in which these rules are listed is the order of precedence by which they must be followed.
Michigan Election Law (MCL 168)
Chapter 168 of Michigan Compiled Laws is titled Michigan Election Law – naturally, it supersedes any other set of party bylaws or rules. A simple online search for the words “county convention” in Michigan Election Law pulls up several sections that govern county convention operations and the role of precinct delegates at these conventions.
Michigan Republican Party Bylaws
Article XIII in the MRP Bylaws also includes some information regarding county conventions, most of it being copied verbatim from Michigan Election Law.
Michigan Republican Party RULES for the Selection of State Delegates & Alternates
Approximately 6-9 months prior to each state convention, the State Central Committee, at one of its quarterly meetings, approves rules for the state convention that have been drawn up by the Policy Committee (one of the standing subcommittees of the State Central Committee). The rules they draw up govern not only the upcoming state convention, but also the preceding county conventions for the selection of state delegates and alternates to that state convention. County conventions must follow these rules, provided that they do not conflict with state party bylaws or Michigan Election Law. Visit the Resources page to find rules for recent state conventions.
County Republican Party Bylaws & Convention Rules
County parties may also decide to implement their own bylaws and rules for county conventions, as long as they are not in conflict with any rules listed above. For example, they may call for specific convention officers or committees, define the method of voting, set guidelines for challenging nominations and establish an apportionment method for forming electing bodies at conventions.
Robert’s Rules of Order
All county conventions use the latest revised version of Robert’s Rules of Order for conducting business. These rules are “a time-tested standard, providing common rules of parliamentary procedure for deliberation and debate in order to place the whole membership on the same footing and speaking the same language. The conduct of ALL business is controlled by the general will of the whole membership – the right of the deliberate majority to decide.” RRO Cheat Sheet
Understanding how to navigate the constraints set by all these laws and rules AND knowing how to formulate and properly execute a motion according to Robert’s Rules of Order IS KEY TO WINNING AT COUNTY CONVENTION!
Call to Convention
A call to convention MUST be issued by the county party to all those who have the right to vote at the county convention – that is, all precinct delegates and delegates at large (read more about this in the VOTERS category below). The call will describe the time, date and location for the convention. If the county party values transparency, they will also provide the convention agenda and any county party bylaws or rules that exist.
Is the purpose of County Convention to Select State Delegates & Alternates?
All counties must hold their conventions at the EXACT same date and time. Instructions will be included on how to give “notification” to the county party of a delegate’s desire to exercise their “precinct delegate preference” when it comes to the selection of state delegates and alternates. Also, if the county party plans to use the “apportionment method” for forming electing bodies, the apportionment plan MUST be included in the call to convention (read more about this in the Formation of Electing Bodies category below).
Is the purpose of County Convention to Elect Executive Committee Members?
The county convention must be held within 20 days of the November General Election in every even year.
Several convention officers are necessary for having a smooth and orderly county convention.
This is the most important role. The Chair is responsible for leading the convention, following the agenda, receiving committee reports, recognizing motion-bringers, facilitating discussion, and appointing other convention officers, such as the Parliamentarian, Sergeant At Arms and Tellers. The chair of the county party opens the convention as the TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON and fills this role until the convention body elects a PERMANENT CHAIRPERSON.
The Secretary keeps formal record of the convention’s process and decisions. This is also called the “convention minutes”. The Secretary may receive and record voting results from tellers or electing bodies. The chair of the county party, after opening the convention, will appoint a TEMPORARY SECRETARY, who will fill this role until the convention body elects a PERMANENT SECRETARY.
The Parliamentarian is responsible for making sure the convention body follows all laws, rules and parliamentary procedure as they conduct business. The PERMANENT CHAIRPERSON appoints a PERMANENT PARLIAMENTARIAN.
Sergeant At Arms
The Sergeant At Arms maintains order and enforces law at county conventions. The PERMANENT CHAIRPERSON appoints a PERMANENT SERGEANT AT ARMS.
The Tellers are responsible for counting the vote: this may involve counting bodies in a “standing vote”, recording names in a “roll call” vote OR tallying ballots (read more about this in the VOTING METHODS category below). The PERMANENT CHAIRPERSON appoints PERMANENT TELLERS.
Convention officers do NOT have to be delegates. However, if they ARE delegates and are elected or appointed to one of these positions, they still have a right to vote on all matters that come before the convention body.
Several committees are necessary for having a smooth and orderly county convention.
The Credentialing Committee checks in convention attendees and credentials precinct delegates and delegates at large. Credentialing is based on a certified list from the county clerk, plus any delegates who may have been elevated to fill a precinct vacancy at a previous convention. After the check-in and credentialing process is complete, the committee prepares a report for the convention body to accept. This report should list all attendees, all credentialed voters, and all precincts that are not represented.
Commitee on Permanent Organization
This committee drafts the standing rules report and agenda for the convention body to adopt. A county party that strives for transparency will circulate the agenda and any standing rules with the call to convention. The standing rules and agenda must be approved by the county convention before proceeding with convention business.
Nominating Committee (optional)
A Nominating Committee might also be established several weeks prior to convention for the purpose of developing a slate of state delegates and alternates, or a slate of executive committee members, to present to the convention body for approval.
Each precinct delegate has the RIGHT and RESPONSIBILITY to attend, participate in and vote at county conventions. The majority of precinct delegates are elected to this role by the primary election voters in their precinct.
Some precinct delegates are elevated to fill this role in precincts that have a remaining vacancy in delegation. At the end of each county convention, the convention body may vote by majority to elevate precinct delegates. All those elevated precinct delegates now have the right to vote at any county conventions remaining in the two-year term.
“Delegates At Large”
This group includes all individuals who won the Republican party nomination in the most recent primary election for county government or state legislature.
If the purpose of county convention is to select state delegates and alternates, then the following individuals are also considered “delegates at large”: federal legislators, governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, attorney general, state board of education or one of the three state university boards. Any current officer of the Michigan Republican Party is also included in this group.
Each “delegate at large” MUST reside in that county, not simply represent a district overlapping the county.
Formation of Electing Bodies
Several pages in the recent Michigan Republican Party rules for Selecting State Delegates and Alternates are dedicated to a section titled “method of electing delegates and alternates”. Within this section, two methods are described – an “at large method” and an “apportionment method”.
“At Large Method”
To put it simply – when all county convention voters together act as ONE ELECTING BODY for the selection of state delegates and alternates, they are using the “at large method”. There are a few counties that are overlapped by more than one congressional district, and the rules for selecting state delegates require that voting take place by congressional district. In this case, the convention voters would separate and form ELECTING BODIES BY CONGRESSONAL DISTRICT solely for the selection of state delegates and alternates. This would also be considered the “at large method”.
The “apportionment method” is used only in a few of the largest counties. This method can be described as the formation of electing bodies that are ANYTHING SMALLER THAN BY CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT PORTION. County parties that decide to use the apportionment method could form a plan to separate convention voters out by commissioner district, municipality, precinct or a contiguous combination thereof for the purpose of selecting state delegates. The rules for the “apportionment method” require that the number of state delegates and alternates apportioned to each of these smaller apportionment districts must be based off the last election results for President or Secretary of State.
The county party MUST include a detailed apportionment plan in the Call to Convention if they plan to implement the “apportionment method”. If such a plan is NOT included in the call to convention, the convention body must use the “at-large” method.
(1) The party chair calls the convention to order, invocation is given and pledge of allegiance is recited. (2) The party chair appoints temporary officers. (3) The call to convention is read aloud. (4) The Credentials Committee Report is presented. (5) The Standing Rules Report is presented. (6) The Agenda is presented. (7) Convention voters elect the permanent convention chairperson and then secretary. (8) The permanent chairperson appoints permanent Parliamentarian, Sergeant At Arms and Tellers. Oaths of Office are Administered. (9) If the convention is for the purpose of selecting state delegates and alternates, the convention body decides whether to approve certain “Hard-Working Republicans”. (10) Votes are cast and counted. (11) Persons are elevated to fill permanent vacancies in precinct delegation. (12) The permanent convention chairperson makes announcements, opportunity is given to present new business, and the convention is adjourned.
A voice vote is when everyone in favor says AYE, then everyone not in favor says NAY. This works well when the vote is unanimous or there is an OBVIOUS majority.
A standing vote is when everyone in favor stands up – followed by everyone opposed doing the same. This works well when the vote is unanimous or there is an OBVIOUS majority.