Duval Has 9 Precinct Committee Openings On The August 18 Ballot. What Do They Do?
There are nearly 200 voting precincts spread out across Duval County, and each of those precincts are headed by a Republican and Democratic committeewoman and committeeman.
In nine of the precincts, there are smaller elections to determine who will represent that specific voting location for their respective party.
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Robert Phillips, the Chief Elections Officer for the Duval County Supervisor of Elections, called the role “precinct captains for the political parties.”
“Each precinct has someone who would be in charge of getting the voter list and doing ‘get-out- the-vote’ efforts for those precincts,” Phillips said.
The positions are unpaid and volunteer-based for a person’s party.
Duval County Democratic Party Chair Daniel Henry went a bit more in depth on what a precinct committee person does.
“The reason why these positions exist in the first place is for you to be the embedded volunteers within your individual precincts to help get out the vote,” Henry said. “So in order for your party to win in any election that's on the ballot, you need to make sure that the members of your party - particularly these precinct committee people - are knocking on doors and doing everything that they can to help get out to vote in their individual neighborhoods.”
He said in many cases, candidates attempt more personal methods to appeal to voters.
“Candidates take a grassroots approaches to their campaigning,” Henry said. “Calling voters, knocking on doors, using social media to advocate for why they should be elected to these types of positions.”
Henry is running for one of the positions in Precinct 1407.
“It's definitely a calmer race as compared to any other type of office,” he said. “It's on the ballot, that's for sure. It's not acrimonious. A lot of times it comes down to name recognition.”
The committeeperson role is only voted on every four years in the August Primary. Only people designated to vote in a specific precinct will be able to vote for the committee person in that precinct.
For that reason, Phillips said it isn’t common to see much information available online regarding those races.
“Because there's such a small amount of attention given to it, and it’s a volunteer position, they actually don't raise money,” Phillips said. “They don't campaign or spend money. Basically, the only place, the only source of information for them is the parties themselves.”
Phillips said overall, the Supervisor of Elections office knows very little about the candidates, and is only involved in making sure they qualify to run.
“They basically come to the office during the qualifying period and sign a loyalty oath. That loyalty says they've been a member of the party for the last several months,” Phillips said. “That's basically it.”
The total voting population in a specific precinct determines how many committee positions will be available. If there are less than 1,000 voters in a precinct, it would have one committeeman and one committeewoman. If the precinct has over 1,000 voters, that number rises to two committee persons each.
Phillips said even though many people skip even voting for a committeeperson, it’s still an important position.
“This is really part of the inside baseball part of elections,” he said.
In Jacksonville, Precincts 204, 206, 305, 312, 401, 404, 1407, and 1408 all have committeeperson seats up for grabs in the August 18 Florida primary election.
Sky Lebron can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, 904-358-6319 or on Twitter at @SkylerLebron