Becoming a Precinct Chair: The Local Pillars of Political Engagement

By: Sunday Shibley

August 30, 2023

In the intricate design of American politics today, the role of a precinct chair stands as a crucial thread that weaves together local party support, grassroots activism, and voter engagement. Precinct chairs are the lionhearted backbone of their parties at the community level. They wield significant influence in bolstering candidates and championing critical issues. In essence, the precinct chair occupies the frontline position in orchestrating the party’s efforts, serving as a direct conduit between the party itself and the electorate.

It is within the precincts that elections are truly won or lost. Your grassroots efforts, activism, and civic participation is strengthened once you get elected or appointed to be a precinct chair. The path to becoming a precinct chair is straightforward, and quite simple. Individuals are either elected during primary elections or, if the role is vacant, the county executive committee (CEC) can appoint a precinct chair to that role. Once elected, their tenure extends as long as eligibility persists or until re-election in the ensuing district primary election, which occurs biennially (every 2 years).

The roadmap to becoming a precinct chair involves a one-page notarized application submitted within the filing period, usually spanning September to December. Alternatively, individuals may choose to apply as a write-in candidate, a method allowing candidates to ask voters to cast a vote by writing in the person’s name on the ballot . In the event of a single candidate applying, they are automatically elected. When multiple candidates are in the running, victory is determined by majority vote in the Primary election.

Being a precinct chair is very important. Precinct Chairs are active participants in the county executive committee (CEC), wielding voting power in quarterly CEC meetings where proposals are debated and decided upon. The precinct chair’s canvas of duties extends beyond the electoral arena. Engaging with neighbors, promoting local party growth, and advocating to help get county party candidates elected to office. Their influence in fostering voter participation, through leading get out the vote outreach and voter turnout initiatives, cannot be overstated. Additionally, precinct chairs take on leadership roles, chairing committees, recruiting volunteers, and tending to voter concerns.

Election involvement forms a significant component of a precinct chair’s obligations. From enhancing polling locations with signs ahead of elections to recruiting and potentially serving as election judges or clerks, their contributions are multifaceted. Notably, they ensure that all convention paperwork is meticulously submitted, and they assist as needed to hold the county and Senate district conventions.

The eligibility criteria, for this role are clear-cut: must be a resident of the precinct, a qualified voter in the county, and not hold a county, state, or federal public office. A genuine affiliation with the party is a prerequisite, established through voting in primary elections, runoff elections, or an oath of affiliation.

Montgomery county, filing period for precinct chairs runs from September 12 to December 11, 2023. Prospective candidates can access training sessions to prepare for their precinct chair campaigns. Application details and more information can be found on party websites:

Becoming a precinct chair represents an opportunity to shape the political landscape at the grassroots level, to engage neighbors, and to advocate for the values one holds dear. It’s a role where passion meets responsibility in the pursuit of a stronger, more vibrant civic society. Did I also mention it is fun?