Bylaws of the Red River Valley Chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America[Adopted April 16, 2017][Amended October 27, 2019]
ARTICLE I. Name & Location
Section 1. Name
The name of the Local Chapter shall be the Red River Valley Chapter (RRVC) of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA). DSA is a not-for-profit corporation.
Section 2. Location
The RRVC is located in the Red River Valley of Minnesota and North Dakota between Fargo/Moorhead and East Grand Forks/Grand Forks and the surrounding areas.
ARTICLE II. Purpose
The RRVC of the Democratic Socialists of America seeks to facilitate the transition to a truly democratic and socialist society, one in which the means/resources of production are democratically and socially controlled.
DSA rejects an economic order based solely on private profit, alienated labor, gross inequalities of wealth and power, discrimination based on race and sex, and brutality and violence in defense of the status quo.
DSA envisions a humane social order based on popular control of resources and production, economic planning, equitable distribution, gender and racial equality, and non-oppressive relationships.
Our conception of socialism is a profoundly democratic one. It is rooted in the belief that human beings should be free to develop to their fullest potential, that public policies should be determined not by wealth but by popular participation, and that individual liberties should be carefully safeguarded. It is committed to a freedom of speech that does not recoil from dissent, to a freedom to organize independent trade unions, women’s groups, political parties, and other formations -- recognizing these as essential bulwarks against the dangers of an intrusive state. It is committed to a freedom of religion that acknowledges the rights of those for whom spiritual concerns are central.
We are socialists because we are developing a concrete strategy for achieving that vision. In the present, we are building a visible socialist presence within the broad democratic left. In the long run, we hope to build a majority movement capable of making democratic socialism a reality in the United States. Our strategy acknowledges the class structure of the U.S. society. This class structure means that there is a basic conflict of interest between those sectors with enormous economic power and the vast majority of the population.
ARTICLE III. Membership
Section 1. Membership
Members of the Red River Valley Chapter of DSA will be those individuals whose dues to national DSA are paid in full, who reside and/or work in the Red River Valley area. It will be the responsibility of members to approve policies and guidelines for the operation of the RRVC, to elect delegates to the national convention, to vote on matters related to national policy, and to make recommendations on issues and other matters to the National Political Committee of DSA.
Section 2. Removal of Members
If a full member is found to be in substantial disagreement with the principles or policies of national DSA, or if they are found to be consistently engaging in undemocratic, disruptive behavior, (ex. poaching members, taking unearned credit, bad faith cooperation, deliberate sabotage, infiltration and destruction, etc.) the RRVC may vote to expel them from DSA. In order for such a finding to be made, another DSA member must formally proffer written charges against the member in question to the RRVC Governance Committee, which shall set the date of a RRVC Regular Meeting for deliberations on the charges. The member in question must receive a copy of the written charges and notice of the meeting a minimum of two weeks before that meeting takes place. Expulsion of a member or affiliate member requires a vote of two-thirds of the RRVC members present at the Regular Meeting. As with all Regular Meetings a quorum must be met. An expelled full member may appeal the expulsion to the National Political Committee of DSA.
Section 3. Dues
The RRVC may establish a RRVC pledge system of voluntary donations for its members. The collection of dues by the RRVC implicitly creates the requirement of creating a budget that is clear and transparent for all RRVC members.
ARTICLE IV. RRVC Meetings
Section 1. General Meetings
The RRVC will hold a minimum of one General Meeting annually, and all members of the RRVC will receive three weeks’ written (or electronic mail) notice and an agenda of the General Meeting. The General Meeting will elect RRVC Chapter Representatives to the Governance Committee and may adopt an annual budget. The General Meeting is the highest legislative body of the RRVC.
Section 2. Regular Meetings
The RRVC will hold Regular Meetings at least four times annually, the time and place of which shall be set in a schedule published and distributed by the RRVC Governance Committee. The Regular Meetings will set RRVC policy and work priorities and will include political education sessions.
The RRVC Governance Committee will set the agenda for Regular Meetings. In general, the Regular Meeting is the operating legislative body of the RRVC.
Section 3. Emergency Meetings
The RRVC Governance Committee may call an Emergency Meeting of the RRVC on five days’ notice when an urgent and important matter requires deliberation.
Section 4. Quorum
A quorum is the minimum number of members that must be present at any of its meetings to make the proceedings of that meeting valid. Fifteen (15) percent of the RRVC members in good standing (but not fewer than six persons) shall constitute a quorum for General, Regular, or Emergency Meetings.
ARTICLE V. RRVC Governance Committee Powers and Duties
Section 1. Governance Committee Members and Terms
- The Governance committee will include:
- Five RRVC elected Chapter Representatives.
- One will serve as Spokesperson.
- One will serve as Treasurer.
- A designee of each RRVC Youth Section
- A designee of each RRVC Branch
- Five RRVC elected Chapter Representatives.
- The general election for Chapter Representatives shall be administered as a five-winner election.
- The first-place finisher in the general election for Chapter Representatives shall be the Spokesperson.
- The Treasurer shall be selected from the Chapter Representatives with consensus of the Governance Committee.
- The Treasurer cannot be the same individual as the Spokesperson.
- If consensus cannot be reached after considering each non-Spokesperson member of the Chapter Representatives, the Spokesperson may appoint a Treasurer from among the Chapter Representatives unilaterally.
- Any of these roles may be abdicated with consensus of the Governance Committee.
- The term of office for each Chapter Representative shall be one year and shall run from April 20 to April 19 the following year or until their successors are elected.
- Diversity Requirements
- The makeup of the five RRVC elected representatives shall consist of:
- At least two gender identities.
- At least one minority with respect to race, sexual orientation, country of origin, and/or religion (or lack thereof, e.g. atheist).
- Fulfilling requirements. During the calculation of results for any election of Chapter Representatives, the Election Committee will repeat the following process as necessary (i.e. it may be necessary to do this more than once):
- The Election Committee will analyze the potential makeup of the Chapter Representatives as a whole as it will exist after the election.
- If it is determined that the diversity requirements will not be met by the Chapter Representatives as a whole after the election and the electorate has willing members available who, if added, would allow them to meet the requirement:
- The Election Committee will inform the existing Governance Committee of its determination that the diversity requirements have not been met.
- An additional temporary Chapter Representative position will be created, its term to expire according to V.1.c. and be eliminated at said expiration.
- The Election Committee will hold an immediate single-winner special election for this newly-created position with the candidate pool restricted to only those candidates who would help to fulfill the unfulfilled diversity requirements.
- The makeup of the five RRVC elected representatives shall consist of:
- In the event of a vacancy (or vacancies) of a Representative, the RRVC will elect a replacement (or replacements) for the remainder of the term at the Regular Meeting.
- The results of this election shall still attempt to maintain the Diversity Requirements for Chapter Representatives as set forth in V.1.d. The procedure outlined in V.1.d.ii shall still be utilized to attempt to maintain the aforementioned requirements.
Section 2. Chapter Representative Responsibilities
- The Chapter Representatives will be responsible for coordinating the day-to-day operations and political work of the RRVC’s branches and committees.
- The Chapter Representatives will report to RRVC Regular Meetings on the business of the Governance Committee Meetings, at which time a copy of the minutes of those meetings will be available for inspection.
- The Chapter Representatives will share responsibility for answering all correspondence and queries of the RRVC, and for maintaining an up-to-date membership list of the RRVC. They will ensure effective communication with the national DSA.
- The Chapter Representatives will rotate responsibility for taking minutes of all RRVC Regular and Governance Committee Meetings, and shall have custody of these minutes and the resolutions, reports and other official records of the RRVC. They shall transfer official records in good condition to their successors. Official records shall include meeting minutes and member lists. Meeting minutes will be posted and stored in a timely manner using a method that is easily accessible for all RRVC members.
- The Chapter Representatives for the RRVC will initiate such actions and policies as the RRVC’s general welfare may demand.
- RRVC Chapter Representatives may be assigned additional temporary duties, so long as such assignments do not conflict with the designation of responsibilities outlined in these Bylaws.
Section 3. Spokesperson
- The Spokesperson will serve as the public representative and primary media contact for RRVC.
- In the event that the Spokesperson is unable to perform their duties for a single event or a longer period of time, another member of the Governance Committee will temporarily assume responsibilities.
Section 4. Treasurer
- The Treasurer will be responsible for the funds and financial records of the RRVC.
- All funds collected by the RRVC will be turned over to the Treasurer, who shall deposit them in a bank account under the name of the RRVC.
- In cooperation with the Governance Committee, the Treasurer will:
- Be responsible for ensuring that membership dues are paid up to date.
- Prepare the annual RRVC budget, and deliver the RRVC financial report to the General Meeting of the RRVC, as well as periodic progress reports as requested by the Governance Committee of the RRVC.
Section 5. Governance Committee Responsibilities
- The Governance Committee administers the affairs of the RRVC and oversees the implementation of the decisions of the General and Regular Meetings; it may also propose policy to the General and Regular Meetings. It shall have the power to receive reports of any Committee or Branch, and advise thereon, to call emergency meetings of the RRVC, and to act on any matter that requires immediate and urgent action. The Governance Committee is the regular executive body of the RRVC, and thus subordinate to its Legislative bodies: the General and Regular Meetings.
- The RRVC Governance Committee will be responsible for establishing program activities for the RRVC chapter, for proposing guidelines and policies that will subsequently be voted on by full members of DSA, and for acting on the organization’s behalf between RRVC meetings.
Section 6. Meetings & Quorum
- The meetings of the Governance Committee will be held at the call of the Chair at such intervals as may be determined at a prior Governance Committee Meeting or by consultation with any three members of the Governance Committee. All members of the Governance Committee must (ordinarily) be given four days’ oral or written notice of regular Governance Committee Meetings; a 24-hour notice may be given under special emergency circumstances.
- The Governance Committee will rotate the responsibilities of assuming the powers and duties of the presiding officer as specified in The Standard Code of Parliamentary Procedure.
- A quorum of two thirds of the Governance Committee is required for the transaction of Governance Committee business.
ARTICLE VI. Branches
Section 1. Definition
A branch is a subgroup of the RRVC consisting of at least five full members in good standing with national DSA. Branches may be defined by geography, work site, constituency (e.g., labor, minority, feminist), or area of political work (e.g., peace action, environmental movement). A designee, selected by the branch, will hold membership on the RRVC Governance Committee.
Section 2. Youth Sections
Branches established on college campuses and consisting of students will be called RRVC Youth Sections. Youth Sections must have at least five full members in good standing with national DSA. A designee, selected by the RRVC Youth Section, will hold membership on the RRVC Governance Committee.
ARTICLE VII Committees
Section 1. Duration
The RRVC will have Ad Hoc Committees, which will exist for a limited and explicit duration. Ad Hoc Committees may be established by a vote of full members at a Regular Meeting of the RRVC.
Section 2. Duties
A representative from Ad Hoc Committees will keep the Governance Committee and the Regular Meetings of the RRVC informed on the activities of the committee.
ARTICLE VIII. Delegates to National, Regional, and State Bodies
Section 1. Convention
RRVC delegates and alternates to the National Convention will be elected by full members of the RRVC Chapter of DSA. Elections for the National Convention delegation shall be held on the schedule announced by the national organization.
ARTICLE IX. Prohibited Activity
Section 1. Fiscal Stewardship
RRVC shall not engage in activity prohibited by the IRS guidelines established for 501 (c) 4 organizations or similar rules established by the states of North Dakota and Minnesota. Nor shall the RRVC engage in any activity prohibited by resolutions adopted by DSA’s National Convention or DSA’s National Political Committee.
ARTICLE X. Nominations and Recalls
Section 1. Nominations Committee
A three-person Nominations Committee shall be elected at a Regular Meeting at least one month prior to every election by vote of a Regular Meeting. It shall solicit and receive nominations for the contests and positions to be elected. The purpose of the Nominations Committee is to ensure candidates representing a diverse set of perspectives are considered for election. Any member in good standing may run or be nominated regardless of the Nomination Committee’s recommendations, and nothing in this section should be construed as discouraging any person from stepping forward for election.
The Governance Committee shall notify the chapter of the Nominations Committee Election at least three days in advance of the Nominations Committee Election.
Section 2. Nominations Process
Nominations for RRVC Chapter Representative, delegates to the National Convention, or other electable positions shall be opened upon formation of the Nominations Committee for the applicable election. The call for nominations shall be announced to full members of DSA reasonably in advance of the General Meeting.
ARTICLE XI. Elections
Section 1. Election Committee
For each and every election, a three-person Election Committee shall be elected at a Regular Meeting at least one week prior to the applicable election by vote of a Regular Meeting. The Election Committee shall include exactly one member of the Governance Committee and two other members in good standing. The purpose of the Election Committee is to administer the election by preparing the ballots, coordinating with absentee voters, and calculating the election’s outcome.
The Governance Committee shall notify the chapter of the Election Committee Election at least three days in advance of the Election Committee Election.
Section 2. Ballot procedures
All voting members present for an election shall cast their votes by way of secret ballot. Absentee ballots shall be provided as necessary, delivered to the voting member prior the election, if requested. The absentee voter is responsible for returning their ballot to a member of the Election Committee before the election takes place. Ballots will clearly state the date of the election, the objective of each contest, the rules governing how to vote in each contest, and the names of all candidates for each contest (including write-in blanks equal to the number of open positions per contest).
Section 3. Uncontested Positions
If a position is uncontested, the nominee will be declared elected by acclamation.
Section 4. Election and voting system rules.
- For contests wherein one position is to be filled, the procedure used will be Approval Voting. All voters may vote for as few or as many candidates as they wish, regardless of the number of positions to be filled. The candidate receiving the most votes will be declared the winner.
- For contests wherein two or more positions are to be filled, the procedure used will be Sequential Proportional Approval Voting. All voters may vote for as few or as many candidates as they wish, regardless of the number of positions to be filled.
- To determine the winners, repeat the following calculations until all seats have been filled:
- For each ballot, determine the number of candidates that the ballot has helped to elect (winners) thus far, n. (e.g. no winners thus far, n = 0, one winner, n = 1, etc.)
- Determine the ballot’s weight, w, with the formula w = 1 / (1 + n). (e.g. a ballot that voted for no winners thus far would have a weight of 1, one winner = ½, two winners = ⅓, three winners = ¼, etc.)
- Apply the appropriate weight to each ballot individually until all ballots have been (re-)weighted as necessary.
- Total the scores for each candidate by recounting all of the ballots, using the newly-calculated weight on a per-ballot basis.
- At the end of each round of calculation, the candidate with the most points wins.
- Ties. All ties are broken (including those that may manifest after each round of calculation in a multi-winner contest) by placing each of the tied candidate’s names into a hat, shuffling the names, and then blindly drawing a single name out at random.
- These procedures may also be used when, rather than electing people to fill positions, options or policies are voted upon (e.g. choosing where to hold the next General Meeting). Simply replace the word ‘candidate’ with ‘option’ as necessary in order to fit the rules to the contest at hand.
ARTICLE XII. Amendments & Rules of the RRVC
Section 1. Amendments to the Bylaws
Proposed amendments to these Bylaws must be made by written resolution, endorsed by five members of the RRVC of DSA, and submitted to the Governance Committee a month in advance of a General or Regular Meeting. The Governance Committee is required to provide the RRVC membership with two weeks written notice of the proposed amendments. The amendment must be approved by a majority of the members present and in good standing at two consecutive (Regular of General) RRVC meetings.
Section 2. Rules
The current edition of The Standard Code of Parliamentary Procedure shall govern RRVC DSA in all parliamentary situations not provided for in law, these bylaws, or adopted special or standing rules. Consensus decision-making is desirable where feasible, but meetings must submit to The Standard Code of Parliamentary Procedure upon the request of a member.
Section 3. Harassment Policy.
The Local Chapter will follow the Harassment Policy of national DSA.
Section 4. Action Out of Order
Any action taken by a Chapter Representative or member of the RRVC in contradiction with these Bylaws is null and void.
We the undersigned members of the Democratic Socialists of America, do approve of these bylaws to govern our local chapter, the Red River Valley Chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America.