On January 28, 2018, the Executive Committee of Democrats Abroad France unanimously approved a resolution from its Bylaws Committee to adopt a set of significant reforms to its present Charter. This was done in order to conform to the Charters of Democrats Abroad and the Democratic National Committee, and to innovate in a manner that will make us a more effective and efficient organization in furthering Democratic goals and getting Democrats elected. Consequently, the Bylaws are now submitted to the general membership for final approval at the Annual General Meeting to be held on March 17, 2018.
You can see the proposed set of new Bylaws HERE.
What’s new? What’s different?
There are some boring technical minutiae, but there are also some large structural and operational changes. Notable changes include:
1. Paris will become its own Chapter. Until now, the Executive Committee has been doing the work of both a national organization and a local chapter. But thanks to extensive growth over the last 15 years outside of Paris—in Toulouse, Bordeaux, Marseille, Aix, Avignon, Nice, Strasbourg, Normandy, and our newest Chapters in Lyon and Brittany—it makes sense that Paris should become a Chapter with its own Officers and Members at Large, so that the National Executive Committee can manage what has become a truly national organization—the fourth largest in all of Democrats Abroad.
2. Consequently, there are changes to the structure of the Executive Committee. As we reflected on our growth, our needs, our experience, and the lessons we’ve learned in the last few electoral cycles, and given that Paris would now have its own dedicated officers, we found a clear need to redefine and adapt the offices of the Executive Committee. Therefore:
· We have reduced the number of Vice Chairs from three to two, and given each of the Vice Chairs a clearly defined role. The First Vice Chair will assist the National Chair in relations to Democrats Abroad at the international level, other country committees, and the Democratic Party, while the Second Vice Chair will help coordinate the Chapters and supervise growth and outreach—a sort of “Foreign Office” and “Home Office” sharing of responsibility.
· We’ve also eliminated the seven “Members-at-Large” and replaced them with four well-defined elected positions: 1. Get Out The Vote (GOTV) Coordinator; 2. Membership Outreach Coordinator; 3. Issues, Events and Programs Coordinator; and 4. Communications Coordinator. Additionally, a Database/IT Manager will be an appointed position due to the technical specificity of that job.
· Chapter Chairs will remain voting members of the ExCom, as well Caucus Chairs, but only if the Caucus is active in more than one Chapter and has at least 100 members nationally.
· You can see the Organizational Chart HERE
3. The membership of Democrats Abroad France has grown extensively in the last decade, but our “old” Bylaws put a relatively high bar on becoming a Chapter, and we lacked a mechanism for enfranchising members in smaller cities and towns. Our proposed “new” Bylaws will remedy those issues with the introduction of “Subchapters”, which would function much like “precincts” or “wards” (we debated furiously on their name). A Subchapter can be formed when as few as ten (10) members petition to form one – so if you’re reading this in Lille, Besançon, Angers, or Tours, to name just a few, and you want to get a Subchapter started, we’d love to hear from you! A Subchapter could hold activities as simple as a monthly meet-up over drinks to talk about politics, or a book club, or a GOTV event to help local Americans register to vote by absentee ballot. And, once every four years, it could host its own Primary Voting Station.
4. Just as Democrats Abroad International has delegates to the DNC, DA-France has delegates to DA International. The number of delegates we have is a function of our proportional weight within DA International (currently, as the fourth “heaviest” country committee, we have 14). Up until now, these delegates were appointed by the Chair, and one person could carry up to four votes, including proxies; but if the Bylaws are passed, then two of the votes will be assigned to the Chair, one to each of the two Vice-Chairs, and the remaining votes (10 under the current allocation) will be directly elected by popular suffrage at the Annual General Meeting. This means that France’s “voice” at the Annual DA Global Convention could be more broadly representative of the diversity of DA France’s membership. And Voting Representatives will be gender-balanced.
5. Term limits on consecutive service in any one office, and lifetime service in any one office, have been clearly defined in a manner that places value on institutional memory while addressing institutional inertia.
6. On a purely administrative level, France will be divided into ten “regions” in which Chapters and Subchapters will work collaboratively to make sure all members receive communication and are enfranchised to vote in DAF elections, in State Party Primary elections, and in US State and Federal General Elections.
There are a few other technical points – such as what constitutes a “quorum” for a meeting and when a “proxy” is appropriate – and the lawyers sharpened up some language here and there, but those mentioned above are the most important changes. We believe that these proposed changes will help the organization grow, meet its responsibilities more efficiently, facilitate communication with its members, be more inclusive and be more democratic. They are also in keeping with the spirit of several of the proposals made by the Unity Reform Commission.
For these reasons, the Executive Committee will ask the membership to vote to accept the proposed reforms to its Bylaws at the Annual General Meeting to be held on March 17, 2018.