The Secret Office of Precinct Committeeman Print
News Releases - Politics & Elections
Written by Laurie Bluedorn   
Tuesday, 12 November 2013 15:38

In the last election, the Illinois Republican Party suffered its worst defeat in modern history — spawning Democrat super-majorities in both houses of the General Assembly.

Solution: Run for Precinct Committeeman

You have no doubt heard the expression, “All politics is local.” That may be true in many respects, but it’s certainly true in one way which Republicans have paid little attention to. Democrats fill all of their Precinct Committeeman (PC) positions with active party members who get out the vote. Republicans have filled only half of their PC positions throughout the state. It’s PCs who turn out Republican votes at the local level, who elect Republican County Chairmen, and who vote for members of the Illinois Republican State Central Committee.

If we want to restore honor and accountability to the party at the state level and enable conservative candidates for success in future elections, the answer is within our reach: fill as many Republican PC positions with some real grassroots conservative people.

Unfortunately, it’s often difficult to find information on what a PC is and how to run for that position. Do a search for “precinct committeeman” on the official Illinois Republican web site weareillinois.org -- you won’t find any references. If you want to control a party, you need to discourage grassroots participation and keep the power in the hands of a few -- and this principle is one which the establishment Illinois Republicans hold dear. It’s called top-down politics.

Duties of a Precinct Committeeman

1. A Republican Precinct Committeeman represents the Republican voters of his precinct. He is the liaison between the Republican voters in his neighborhood (precinct) and the county’s Republican Party.

2. Get out the vote. “This volunteer position is really what one makes of it. Some do more than others. But the Republican Precinct Committeeman’s job is in essence all about helping to grow the GOP and working to deliver the maximum number of Republican votes from his or her precinct on Election Day. Precinct Committeemen comprise the core of any grassroots effort and no political campaign can be successful without these front line GOP ambassadors.” (taken from Republican News Watch by Doug Ibendahl  http://republicannewswatch.com/wp/)

3. Republican Precinct Committeemen are to advance the Illinois Republican platform principles of lower taxes, smaller government, fiscal responsibility, individual freedom, strong national defense, and traditional family values.

4. Precinct Committeemen are responsible for appointing their party’s election judges and are also able to register voters in their county. This will allow people to register to vote without having to drive to the courthouse.

5. All the elected PCs of a county make up that county’s Central Committee.

10 ILCS 5/7-8(d): “The county central committee of each political party in each county shall consist of the various township committeemen, precinct committeemen and ward committeemen, if any, of such party in the county.”

For example, Mercer County has a total of 24 precincts. Those 24 elected Precinct Committeemen of Mercer County (if indeed all 24 precincts have people running for PC) are called the Mercer County Central Committee.

6. The members of this county Central Committee are the only people who are allowed to vote during the County Convention, which is held every two years, 29 days after the March primary. Two important votes happen during a County Convention: 1) election of the County Chairman, and 2) election of the Illinois State Central Committee member (more on the Illinois State Central Committee here  http://republicannewswatch.com/wp/?p=12222). The County Chairman is elected for a two year term and the Illinois State Central Committee member is elected for a four year term.

10 ILCS 5/7-9(a): “On the 29th day next succeeding the primary at which committeemen are elected, the county central committee of each political party shall meet within the county and proceed to organize by electing from its own numbers a chairman and either from its own numbers, or otherwise, such other officers as such committee may deem necessary or expedient. Such meeting of the county central committee shall be known as the county convention.”

How to Run for Precinct Committeeman

1. MEET THE REQUIREMENTS — To run for Precinct Committeeman you must be:

–A registered voter of your precinct.

2. GET ON THE BALLOT

–Fill out the Precinct Committeeman Primary Petition and print two copies.

 http://www.elections.il.gov/Downloads/ElectionInformation/PDF/P-27.pdf

–Begin gathering signatures of registered voters IN YOUR PRECINCT beginning on September 3, 2013.

–Meet the signature requirements – Precinct Committeemen require a minimum of 10 signatures. Make sure to get at least 20 signatures to avoid a petition challenge.

–File the following nominating papers with the County Clerk (along with your petitions with the 20 signatures) the week of November 25th thru December 2nd, 2013:

 http://www.elections.il.gov/Downloads/ElectionInformation/PDF/P-1.pdf

 http://www.elections.il.gov/Downloads/ElectionInformation/PDF/P-1C.pdf

Elected Vs Appointed Precinct Committeemen

1. The County Chair must be a currently elected Precinct Committeeman. Any other county party officers (vice-chair, secretary, treasurer) do not have to be elected PCs. See 10 ILCS 5/7-9 (a) cited above.

2. What if there is a vacant precinct -- no one runs for Precinct Committeeman in any particular precinct in that year’s primary? The newly elected County Chair (elected at the County Convention) may appoint a Precinct Committeeman for a vacant precinct one day after the County Convention, not before.

10 ILCS 5/7 9(i): “Except as otherwise provided in this Act, whenever a vacancy exists in the office of precinct committeeman because no one was elected to that office or because the precinct committeeman ceases to reside in the precinct or for any other reason, the chairman of the county central committee of the appropriate political party may fill the vacancy in such office by appointment of a qualified resident of the county and the appointed precinct committeeman shall serve as though elected; however, no such appointment may be made between the general primary election and the 30th day after the general primary election.” 10 ILCS 5/7-8(b): “All precinct committeemen elected under the provisions of this Article shall continue as such committeemen until the date of the primary to be held in the second year after their election.”

An appointed PC serves “as though elected,” so, his term, as well as the elected PC’s term, expires at the date of the next primary. Therefore, an appointed PC cannot be elected as county chairman, vote for county chairman or vote for the SCC unless he is elected at the primary election preceding the county convention.

Conclusion

Just like the person who serves on the petty jury -- whose vote may be the most important judicial vote there is -- if you believe in small “r” republicanism, then the Precinct Committeeman may be the single most important political position in state government.

And it only takes a few signatures.

Laurie Bluedorn

New Boston, Mercer County