The Caucus and Convention Process

Precinct Caucuses and Conventions happen either annually or biennially depending on where you live. You can still get involved at any time by reaching out to your local organization.

The DFL Party believes democracy starts at the grassroots. That is why our process begins at precinct caucuses and continues to conventions at each level to endorse candidates, elect party leaders, and shape the party platform. These gatherings are an important way to get involved in the democratic process and make your voice heard.

The Four Levels of DFL Caucuses and Conventions

1. Precinct Caucuses

The precinct caucuses are a foundational pillar to the DFL Party’s grassroots history because all Minnesotans have the ability to participate at this level.

Those in attendance have an opportunity to speak with candidates, participate in a preferential ballot, and compose resolutions that have the potential to be forwarded to their local unit conventions and the state convention for deliberation for acceptance to the official DFL Ongoing Platform and Action Agenda.

Have a scheduling conflict on caucus night? Know your rights: Minnesota Statutes Section 202A.19 permits Minnesota residents to take time off from work without pay to attend precinct caucuses provided they give their employer written notice at least 10 days in advance. State universities, community colleges, and public schools may not hold classes or events after 6:00 p.m. on the evening of precinct caucuses. State agencies, school boards, county boards, township boards, city councils, and all other political subdivisions may not conduct meetings after 6:00 p.m. on caucus night.

2. Organizing Unit Convention

The Organizing Unit is the second level of the DFL Party structure. Delegates are elected to their Organizing Unit conventions at their local precinct caucuses. Then, these delegates will endorse candidates for the state legislature and choose delegates to move on to the state and congressional district conventions.

Organizing Units may be based on county, senate district, or house district boundaries. In larger counties such as Anoka, Carver, Dakota, Hennepin, Ramsey, St. Louis, Scott, Stearns, Washington, and Wright, most Organizing Units are full Senate Districts. In these areas, the Organizing Unit and Senate District conventions are combined into one convention that both endorses legislative candidates and handles other party business. In areas where Organizing Units aren’t full Senate Districts, separate conventions are held to endorse candidates. (The different Organizing Units are defined in Article V of the DFL Constitution.)

Like at the state party level, organizing unit and senate district conventions are generally held on even-numbered years, with a few exceptions. The organizing unit central and executive committees are the governing bodies of the organizing unit between conventions.

Organizing Unit/Senate District Convention Tasks:

  • Endorse candidates for State Senate and House
  • Elect party unit officers
  • Elect State Central Committee members
  • Vote on resolutions for consideration at the State Convention and inclusion in the DFL Platform
  • Elect delegates to their Congressional District and State Conventions
  • Consider amendments to the party unit constitution

3. Congressional District Convention

The congressional district, an area established by law for the election of representatives to the U.S. Congress, is the third level in the DFL Party structure. The boundaries of congressional districts are determined by State legislature and are dependent on the population of the state and the number of U.S. representative seats given to Minnesota. In general, each congressional district is to be as equal in population to all other congressional districts in the State.

Between conventions, the congressional district central and executive committees are the governing bodies of a congressional district party unit. On even-numbered years, Congressional district conventions are held with delegates who have been elected at the DFL organizing unit conventions.

Congressional District Convention Tasks:

  • Endorse a candidate for U.S. Congress
  • Elect Congressional District party unit officers
  • Elect seven members to serve on the State Central Committee
  • Elect members to serve on State Standing Committees and State Convention Committees
  • Elect two State Directors to serve on the DFL State Executive Committee
  • Consider amendments to the Congressional District constitution

In presidential election years, delegates at the Congressional District convention elect national delegates to attend the Democratic National Convention.

4. State Convention

The State Convention is the supreme governing body of the Minnesota DFL Party. At the 2022 State Convention, to be held in Rochester, May 20-22, delegates will:

  • Endorse candidates for Governor/Lt. Governor, Attorney General, Secretary of State, and State Auditor
  • Consider amendments to the DFL Constitution and Bylaws
  • Consider resolutions for inclusion in the DFL Ongoing Platform and Action Agenda

State Conventions are held during even-numbered years with over 1,300 voting delegates in attendance. The State Central Committee is the governing body of the party between conventions.

In presidential election years, delegates at the State Convention elect at-large members to serve a four-year term on the Democratic National Committee along with the state party chair and first vice chair, and elect at-large national delegates to attend the Democratic National Convention.

5. National Convention

The most recent Democratic National Convention was conducted virtually August 17 – 20, 2020.  The Democratic National Convention is the gathering at which delegates choose the Party’s nominees for President of the United States and Vice President of the United States. Delegates are elected to the National Convention from Congressional District conventions and from the State Convention. Delegates chosen should meet representation goals established by the State Democratic Party.