2021 DSA Convention Rules


I. Preconvention Rules

I.A. Convention Delegate

Delegate Apportionment

  1. The NPC has established a target goal of 1,300 delegates to the 2021 DSA National Convention. Of the total number of delegates, 100 delegates will be reserved for at-large delegates who are not members of a chartered chapter. The remaining delegates will be distributed among chapters using a delegate-to-member ratio of 1-to-70, or one delegate per every 70 members, based on chapter membership numbers apportioned on March 8th, 2021. Locals with fewer than 70 members will be apportioned one delegate. Locals with at least 70 members will get one delegate for every 70 members or greater fraction thereof. That is, the number of delegates allocated to each local is the number of members of the local, divided by 70, rounded to the nearest whole number. As an example, a local with 270 members will get 4 delegates, and a local with 360 members will get 5 delegates. The NPC shall include apportionment calculations in a delegate apportionment announcement to all members.
  2. Locals may elect alternates so as to ensure that their delegation is represented in full strength, even if initially-elected delegates are unable to attend. Alternate delegates only gain voting rights if an elected delegate needs to surrender their responsibilities for any reason, either before the Convention or during. One per 5 elected alternate delegates shall be allowed to attend the Convention, regardless of whether their duties as alternate delegates are needed. Observers cannot under any circumstances get voting rights, although some, such as National Political Committee (NPC) members, have speaking rights.
  3. Apportionment of Alternates shall be at a ratio of 1:5 (1 alternate per 5 delegates) for chapters with more than 5 delegates. Chapters apportioned 5 delegates or less shall be allowed one alternate for the convention.
  4. The National Office shall inform locals of the delegates apportioned to them as of four months prior to the start of the convention, Thursday, April 1st.

Delegate Elections & Pre-convention Conference Delegation

  1. Nominations for delegates to the National Convention shall be open on April 2nd. All nominees shall be encouraged to attend one of the five pre-convention conferences.
  2. Locals shall conduct and supervise their own elections of Convention delegates and alternate delegates in accordance with the applicable provisions of the DSA Constitution and Bylaws not before the apportionment of delegates and no later than June 17th, 45 days prior to the start of convention. All locals shall use an STV method in order to conduct their election.
    Locals are required to establish and forward a roster of all nominees for convention delegates to the national Credentials and Elections Committee no later than May 8th and not before April 30th. UPDATE: chapters will NOT be required to submit a roster of convention delegates.

Eligibility for Election and Seating of Delegates

  1. Any member in good standing of a local may run for delegate and vote in their local’s delegate election. The National Office will offer to locals help with the use of OpaVote.com or a similar online election system to help them conduct their delegate election, and will publish this offer in a communication to the full national membership.
  2. An individual must be in good standing as a DSA member through the end of convention in order to be seated as a delegate or alternate delegate.

Reporting of Delegate Election Results

  1. Each local must report the result of its elections in writing to the National Office no later than June 23rd. The report must include full contact information, including the email address under which the member is registered, for all delegates.

Election of At-Large Delegates

  1. The National Office shall conduct and supervise the election of at-large delegates. A call for candidates for at-large delegates shall be sent to all at-large members no later than Friday, March 12th. Requests to be considered at-large may be considered through Tuesday, April 20th. At-large delegate nominations will be open through Friday, April 30th. Candidates for delegate may submit a brief statement to be made available to voters. If at the close of nominations the number of candidates is less than or equal to the number of positions (taking into account the diversity requirements), the candidates will be considered elected by acclamation. Otherwise, no later than Sunday, May 2nd, the National Office shall administer an online election using OpaVote.com or similar online voting system using a Borda counting method. Every at-large member in good standing by May 2nd will be eligible to vote in the election. Voting will be open through June 1st. As required by DSA bylaws, no more than one-half of the available positions for at-large delegates may be filled by men and one-fifth of the available positions must be reserved for national and racial minorities. Those candidates who have been elected shall be immediately informed of their election by the National Office.

Delegate Roster

  1. Based on the reports of local delegate elections and the outcome of the at-large elections conducted by the National Office, the National Office shall prepare a temporary roster of delegates and alternate delegates, which shall be sent to delegates, alternate delegates, locals, commissions and officers of DSA no later than Friday, July 23rd. 

Challenges to Credentials

  1. Challenges to the credentials of any delegate or alternate must be submitted in writing to the National Office no later than Tuesday, July 27th and shall be forwarded to the Credentials Committee appointed by the NPC for consideration. Challenges must either name individual delegates or alternates from one delegation, or may name any one entire delegation, and must include a reason for the challenge that applies to all the credentials challenged. Challenges may include replacement(s) for the delegate or alternate challenges, or challenges may seek to seat additional delegate(s) or alternate(s) as part of a delegation. However, challenges that would result in a delegation exceeding its apportioned number of delegates will not be valid.
  2. At the opening plenary, the Credentials Committee shall report to the Convention any challenge(s) filed according to rule 12 and may report its recommendation concerning them. There shall be no more than one speaker for and one speaker against each credentials challenge.
  3. The delegates listed on the Temporary Roster of Delegates shall vote on the Credentials Committee’s recommendations, except that no delegate may vote on a challenge to their own credentials. Upon acceptance of the Credentials Committee those persons listed on the Temporary Roster of Delegates who are not subject to successful credentials challenge shall become the Permanent Roster of Delegates.

I.B. Constitutional Changes, Bylaws Changes, General Resolutions, and Platform Resolutions

Constitutional & Bylaw Changes: 

  1. Any member or group of DSA members in good standing may propose changes to the DSA National Constitution or Bylaws electronically between Monday, February 22nd and Thursday, April 15th. To be considered for debate at the Convention, proposed amendments to the Constitution or Bylaws must have a minimum of 100 signatures of support from DSA members in good standing. There is no limit on the number of Constitutional or Bylaws changes any member in good standing may sign as a supporter; however no individual may propose more than 4 Constitutional or Bylaws changes for debate at the Convention. Constitutional changes require a 2/3 vote of the Convention to pass; Bylaws changes require a 3/5 vote.  
  1. Any member or group of DSA members in good standing may propose secondary amendments to the constitution or bylaws amendments via Google Form until the submissions period for amendments closes Wednesday, June 30th, 2021. UPDATE: the submissions period for amendments closes Tuesday, June 15th, 2021. To be considered for discussion these secondary amendments will need a minimum of 250 votes of support from DSA members. There is no limit on the number of Constitutional or Bylaws changes any member in good standing may sign as a supporter; however no individual may propose more than 4 Constitutional or Bylaws changes for debate at the Convention. Constitutional changes require a 2/3 vote of the Convention to pass; Bylaws changes require a 3/5 vote.
  1. A Constitutional or Bylaws change should pertain to one topic. Constitutional or Bylaws Changes may propose to: (1) delete specified language from the Constitution and/or Bylaws, (2) add certain language in specified places to the Constitution and/or Bylaws, or (3) replace existing language with new language, indicating all the places in the Constitution and/or Bylaws where the specified language occurs. All supporting materials submitted along with Constitutional or Bylaws Changes (i.e. Whereas clauses) will be included in a compendium of Convention items released to the membership of DSA for background reading in advance of the Convention but not open to amendment. 

General Political & Organizational Resolutions

  1. Any member or group of DSA members in good standing may propose political or organizational resolutions electronically between Wednesday, February 22nd and Thursday, April 15th. To be considered for debate at the Convention, resolutions must have a minimum of 100 signatures of support from DSA members in good standing as of February 22nd, 2021. There is no limit on the number of resolutions or amendments to resolutions a member in good standing may sign as a supporter, however no individual may propose more than 4 resolutions for debate at the Convention.  
  1. Any member or group of DSA members in good standing may propose amendments to general political and organizational resolutions via Google Form until the submissions period for amendments closes Wednesday, June 30th, 2021. UPDATE: the submissions period for amendments closes Tuesday, June 15th, 2021. To qualify for discussion and consideration, the proposal must have a minimum of 100 signatures from DSA members in good standing. There is no limit on the number of resolutions or amendments to resolutions a member in good standing may sign as a supporter, however no individual may propose more than 4 resolutions for debate at the Convention.

Political Platform Resolutions

  1. The Platform and Resolutions Committee will send out a draft political platform. Any member or group of DSA members in good standing may propose changes to the draft platform via Google Form until the submissions period for amendments closes Wednesday, June 30th, 2021. UPDATE: the submissions period for amendments to the platofrm closes Thursday, July 15th, 2021. To be considered for debate at the Convention, DSA members must gather 250 signatures from members in good standing in order to be considered for the convention. Of those 250 signatures, at least 50 signatures must be gathered from 3 different chapters.
  1. The Platform and Resolutions Committee will issue a resolutions template to guide resolution drafting. In keeping with Roberts Rules of Order Newly Revised, only the operative sections of resolutions (i.e. Be it therefore resolved clauses) will be recorded and subsequently published following the Convention. All supporting material submitted along with resolutions (i.e. Whereas clauses or rationales) will be included in a compendium released to the membership of DSA for background reading in advance of the Convention but not open to amendment. 
  1. UPDATED: The Platform and Resolutions Committee will work with authors of proposed Convention items to encourage authors writing on the same topic to combine items or adopt “friendly” amendments in advance of the Convention wherever possible. The Platform and Resolutions Committee will maintain a compendium of proposed resolutions and bylaws and/or constitutional amendments available to the membership of DSA  no later than Friday, July 2nd via email and on the DSA Forum and Convention website and to Convention delegates via the Convention Slack. 
  1. UPDATED: On By Friday, July 2 delegates will get a locked section on the DSA Forum be added to the newly-created Convention Slack to discuss amendments to original proposals (constitution or bylaws amendments and resolutions). The voting will only be on which amendments will be made to the original proposals. Quorum for these votes will be 50% of delegates. Voting thresholds will match those Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised. Voting will close on Friday, July 16. This voting will only determine the final language of any original Constitution or Bylaws amendment, or resolution as it will appear in the priority polls and compendium.
  1. The Platform and Resolutions Committee will poll the delegates as to which are most preferred for discussion at the Convention. There will be a poll for delegates’ top 10 and a poll for delegates’ top 3 amendments; a poll for delegate’s top 10 and top 3 resolutions; and a poll for delegates top 5 overall preferred proposals. This poll will go out to delegates on Monday, July 19.
  1. The Platform and Resolutions Committee will release a final compilation of all proposed Constitutional and Bylaws Changes, Resolutions, and Amendments electronically via email to the entire organization and on the Convention website by Monday, July 26th. 

I.C. NPC Nominations 

  1. The National Political Committee will release a description of the NPC and its members’ duties after the March NPC meeting.

Eligibility for NPC

  1. Any DSA member in good standing may be nominated as a candidate for the NPC elections through a nomination resolution passed by a majority vote of either: (1) any chapter or OC; or (2) a majority of vote of the NPC. Chapters and OCs are strongly encouraged to make decisions on nomination in a way that includes the broadest number of members as the chapter shall determine is practicable, such as at membership meetings or through membership-wide online votes. Chapters and O.C. must hold a nomination meeting for the NPC. This meeting may be combined so that the nomination vote occurs during a General Meeting. Nomination should not be seen as an endorsement of a candidate or their politics, but as an affirmation that the member is active in the work of DSA and is constructive and comradely towards their fellow members. To formally accept their candidacy, each nominee must complete the candidate questionnaire furnished by the national organization between Friday, April 2nd, and Wednesday, June 16th, including a copy of their nominating resolution signed and dated by the co-chairs or equivalent of either the local or national body issuing the nomination resolution. [The questionnaire should be submitted to convention@dsausa.org.]
  2. The NPC Election Committee will release a compendium of candidate questionnaires no later than Wednesday, June 30th, 2021 via email and on the Convention website. 
  1. The NPC Election Committee will additionally host at least one national candidate forum or debate via Zoom no later than Friday, July 16th, 2021. The number, format, and content of subsequent candidate forums will be set by the NPC Elections Committee based on the number of candidates.

II. Convention Rules

II.A. Convention Committees

  1. The Rules Committee has drafted these Rules and will remain available to interpret them.
  1. The Platform and Resolutions Committee is responsible for drafting a platform for discussion at convention and for making recommendations to the Convention on the disposition of resolutions and changes to the Constitution, Bylaws and resolutions submitted after the resolution deadline. Its work is detailed above under Constitutional Changes, Bylaws Changes and Resolutions.
  1. The Credentials and Elections Committee is responsible for reporting to the Convention to roster of delegates and for overseeing election of the at-large delegates and election of members to the National Political Committee. Its work is detailed above under Delegate Credentials and NPC Nominations. At the Convention it will oversee voting for the National Political Committee.
  1. The Credentials and Elections Committee may also make recommendations to the National Director concerning any need for subsidies for registration fees.
  1. The Programming Committee is responsible for all convention and preconvention programming that is not directly related to adopting a platform, resolution, constitution or bylaws change, or elected leadership. The Programming Committee may make recommendations regarding scheduling. Its work is detailed below under Programming.
  1. The Accessibility Committee is responsible for ensuring that all delegates may participate in the convention to the fullest extent possible. The Accessibility Committee may make recommendations to other Committees or to the convention as a whole to ensure greatest possible accessibility.
  1. The Administrative Committee is responsible for making recommendations to the National Director regarding any issue that arises on the administration of the Convention, particularly recording credentials changes, such as in the event a delegate needs to transfer their voting credentials to an alternate. The committee will also make recommendations around issues of climate or accessibility at the Convention. Members of this committee shall include the Preconvention Program & Logistics Committee, DSA’s National Director, DSA national staff, and the Convention marshals team. 
  1. These committees propose their chairs at the beginning of the Convention.

II.B. Program

  1. The preconvention Programming Committee has broad discretion in designing the program. Certain parts, however, are required. 
  1. An officer of the organization shall call to order the opening session of the Convention at which time the Convention shall elect one Chair for the convention, who may delegate the task of chairing for a period to someone from a pool of members trained for the task.
  1. At the opening plenary, membership on all committees and chairs for each shall be confirmed by the Convention.
  1. The Convention shall vote to adopt the II.D. Procedural Authority section of the  Convention Rules.
  1. The National Director shall submit to the Convention on its opening day a report on the activities of the staff since the 2019 National Convention.
  2. The Secretary-Treasurer shall submit to the Convention on its opening day a report on the finances of the organization.
  3. Reports by the NPC, by YDSA, and about the political situation in general are strongly recommended.A brief introduction to Robert’s Rules is also recommended.
  4. The Platform and Resolutions Committee shall submit a draft platform for adoption by the Convention.
  5. The program will to the extent possible follow the recommendations of the Platform and Resolutions Committee as to the order in which items are considered and the time allocated to each.  

II.C. Recording

  1. The National Director of DSA shall work with the Administrative Committee to keep the official record of the Convention and may appoint assistants as they deem necessary following the Convention to form a Styles Committee responsible for editing small typos, punctuation, and grammatical errors, etc. and incorporating adopted amendments into the body of Resolutions and Constitutional or Bylaws changes.
  2. The entire convention will be recorded and made available to all DSA members in good standing.

II.D. Procedural Authority

  1. A quorum of the Convention shall consist of fifty percent plus one of the registered delegates and seated alternate delegates.
  1. An accredited alternate delegate may be seated for a delegate temporarily or permanently. The permanent seating of an alternate must be reported immediately to the Credentials Committee. Each delegate and seated alternate shall be entitled to one vote on all questions coming before the Convention, except that each local chapter delegation may vote its full strength, provided that no individual casts more than three votes unless authorized to do so by the Convention. Any delegate or seated alternate who wishes to substitute themselves in must inform the Credentials Committee no later than 1 hour prior to the start of each deliberation block. An accredited alternate delegate may be seated for a delegate temporarily or permanently. The permanent seating of an alternate must be reported immediately to the Administrative Committee. In the case of temporary seating of a delegate, such substitution may not occur in the middle of deliberations (once a voting  begins). In the case of a technological problem or an emergency this must immediately be reported to the admin committee who will bring it to the attention of the chair who may order the substitution of the alternate.
  1. Resolutions before the Convention shall be decided by majority vote of the delegates and seated alternate delegates present and voting. Proposed changes to the DSA Constitution shall require a 2/3 majority of present and voting delegates and seated alternates, and to the Bylaws shall require a 3/5 majority. All procedural motions shall be passed by the majorities required by Robert’s Rules of Order.
  1. The Convention shall hear twenty (20) total resolutions or amendments to the DSA constitution or bylaws on substantive topics, not including resolutions or amendments placed on the consent agenda. These, and their order of discussion, will be determined by the Priority Poll released to delegates on Monday, July 19. In the event that multiple resolutions are submitted concerning the same subject matter, as determined by the Platform and Resolutions Committee, the resolution or constitution/bylaws amendment voted the most popular in the pre-convention polls shall be considered the Main Motion and competing resolutions shall be considered as amendments to the Main Motion.
  1. All votes on Constitution or Bylaws amendments or resolutions will be by Opavote. Ballots will be emailed to each delegate or seated alternate. Votes during debate blocks will use a unique identification code for each delegate and seated alternate.
  2. Voting on Constitution or Bylaws amendments or resolutions will open immediately after each debate block, and will remain open for three (3) hours.
  1. Votes on amendments to Constitution or Bylaws amendments or resolutions will have ten (10) minutes of discussion followed by five (5) minutes for voting. Procedural motions will have a five (5) minutes discussion, if this is in order. They will also have five (5) minutes for voting.
  1. Each Constitution or Bylaws amendment or resolution will have one (1) hour for debate.
  1. Motions to extend debate will be considered out of order.
  1. No secret ballot shall be conducted. No Convention committee meeting or Convention session may be closed to DSA members pending space capacity, except that any meeting or session may be deemed closed to press.
  2. Only delegates, seated alternate delegates, NPC members, national DSA officers, and DSA staff members may speak on questions coming before the Convention in plenary session. Speakers on all motions shall be limited to ninety (90) seconds. At the sixty (60) second mark the speaker will be given a thirty (30) second warning. At the end of the ninety (90) seconds the speaker will be muted. If the convention accepts a different limit the speaker will still receive a thirty (30) second warning and will be muted at then end of the thirty (30) seconds.
  1. No amendments to Resolutions or amendments to Changes to the Constitution and Bylaws may be made from the floor (except in the event of the suspension of these rules pursuant to Robert’s Rules of Order). A Styles Committee shall be appointed by the NPC, subsequent to the convention, whose responsibilities will include, for instance, spelling and grammatical corrections and incorporating enacted amendments into the Constitution and Bylaws. All changes made by the Styles Committee shall be subject to approval by the NPC.
  2. Except as provided in these Rules, the Constitution or the Bylaws, the latest edition of Robert’s Rules of Order, Newly Revised shall govern the proceedings of the Convention.
  3. The Chair of each Convention plenary session shall be the sole interpreter of the Convention Rules. The administrative committee may provide for the appointment of a parliamentarian and such other assistants as needed to provide assistance as requested to convention chairs.
  4. Any delegate or seated alternate may appeal any ruling of the Chair or of the Resolutions Committee to the Convention. In such instances, the person making the appeal may speak for up to two minutes to advocate the appeal and the Chair may speak for up to two minutes to defend the ruling. No other debate shall be permitted. The ruling of the Chair may be overturned by a vote in favor of the appeal by a majority of delegates and seated alternates present and voting. Challenges to a ruling by the chair shall be decided by majority vote of delegates present and voting.
  5. The election for the NPC shall be conducted by preferential ballot. The Elections Committee shall count the ballots using an online voting system with a ranked-choice voting method.
  1. Constitutional and Bylaws changes and resolutions will take effect only after the Convention Minutes have been approved by the NPC.

II.E. Registration

  1.  Convention registration will open Saturday, May 15th. Registration closes Thursday, July 15th. Registration fees or other costs, if any, will be made available to the membership before Saturday, May 1st.