Organization Procedure

South Carolina Libertarian Party
2017 County Organization
and Convention Procedure

State law requires that all political parties in South Carolina reorganize every two years, and that they conduct their reorganization according to law. This may seem to be a complex process, but if you understand the procedure it is actually quite easy.

The following sections of this page contain the information and procedures that county committees are required to follow. If you are new to the process -- or even to the concept of political conventions -- then we recommend that you skip to the end of the page and read the section titled "PROCESS EXPLANATION". If you've done this before, there is probably no reason to read that section, although you might walk away thinking "so that's why we..."

and so,

TIME AND NOTIFICATION

As authorized under SC 7-9-70, the South Carolina Libertarian Party's State Committee selected April of 2017 as the month for county organization and conventions. The date and time selected by the state committee for general organization/reorganization is Saturday, April 22, 2017, at noon in front of each respective County Court House.

The selected month is in a nongeneral election year, so all conventions are for the purpose of reorganization only.

Each existing county committee is required under SC 7-9-70 to set the date, time, and location during this month to hold their county convention. They may choose to reorganize at the time and location specified above by the state committee, or they may elect to reorganize on another date.

Anyone organizing a county that is currently unorganized must do so at the date, time and location noted above for general organization.

Under SC 7-9-70, notices for the reorganization convention must be published by the county committee, once a week for two consecutive weeks, not more than three nor less than two weeks, before the day in a newspaper having general circulation in the county. If an existing county committee has elected to reorganize at the time and location selected by the state committee for general organization/reorganization, their convention will be covered under the notices placed by the state party and no further notices are required to be posted.

Any county failing or refusing to organize under the provisions of this title may not have representation in the state convention (SC 7-9-100).

REORGANIZATION AND CONVENTION PROCEDURES

All persons wishing to be delegates or participate in organization must be a member of the party. They must also either bring their voter registration card or be prepared to show evidence from the State Election Commission's online database that they are a registered voter in the county. In addition, South Carolina Libertarian Party Rules require that anyone elected as an officer must have been a member of the party for a period of six months prior to election. This restriction does not apply to delegates to the county convention, non-officer members of a county committee, or those selected as delegates to the state convention.

Each county convention shall be called to order by the county chairman and shall proceed to elect a temporary president, a temporary secretary and a committee on credentials for the purpose of organizing. When organized, it shall elect a permanent president, a secretary and treasurer.

(OPTIONAL TEMPORARY RECESS)

In the event that your county is organizing at the time and location specified by the state party, you may wish to temporarily recess your convention following the election of the convention president and secretary. Some county court houses are in areas difficult to obtain parking near on a Saturday, or weather conditions may require you to move your convention. You may have also planned in advance to recess to another location.

If you temporarily recess, the convention president should clearly state the time and location that day to reconvene within your county.

When the convention reconvenes, you are permitted (as you normally are) to vote to accept the credentials of additional delegates as submitted by the credentials committee.

OFFICER ELECTIONS

State law SC 7-9-80 requires the election of a county chair, vice-chair and member of the State committee as well as delegates to the State convention. You are permitted as many delegates to the State convention as triple the number of members from your county in the House of Representatives, plus one. You may elect to double the number of delegates, in which case each delegate shall have one-half vote. Please don't do this. It is messy. Legal, but messy.

Delegates to the state convention shall be reported to the State Party at the next monthly State Committee meeting. Please print and use as many pages as required to list all delegates elected to the state convention.

The Secretary of the convention shall keep a record of the proceedings in the minute book.

The convention should recess, subject to recall by the chair. Do not adjourn.

Take three copies of the form titled County Convention Officer Elections to your Clerk of Court and have them stamped. Leave one copy with them for their public records and keep the other two. One stamped form should be retained by your county secretary and the other must be submitted to the State Party at the next executive committee meeting along with the form(s) listing your delegates to the state convention. The next state committee meeting is scheduled for May 6th at noon at the Grecian Gardens Inn, 2312 Sunset Blvd, West Columbia.

Make a copy of the form and submit it to the Secretary of State. State law requires that your Clerk of Court and Secretary of State be notified, but we ask that you also submit a copy to your county Election Commission. They usually send notices of meetings and hearing to county parties, but they can't if they don't know who your officers are.

FORMS

County Convention Officer Elections form

State Convention Delegates form

Click here to download an Adobe Reader to read the Forms

STATE LAW

The following is the election law for the above process:

SECTION 7-9-70. County conventions; notice, time.

A county convention must be held during a twelve-month period ending March thirty-first of each general election year during a month determined by the state committee as provided in Section 7-9-100. The county committee shall set the date, time, and location during the month designated by the state committee for the county convention to be held. The date set by the county committee for the county convention must be at least two weeks before the state convention. When a month in a nongeneral election year is chosen for the county convention, it must be held for the purpose of reorganization only. The date, time, and location that the county convention must be reconvened during the general election year to nominate candidates for public office to be filled in the general election must be set by county committee. Notices, both for the convention to be held for reorganization and for the reconvened convention to nominate candidates, must be published by the county committee, once a week for two consecutive weeks, not more than three nor less than two weeks, before the day in a newspaper having general circulation in the county.

SECTION 7-9-80. County conventions: organization and conduct of business.

Each county convention shall be called to order by the county chairman and shall proceed to elect a temporary president, a temporary secretary and a committee on credentials for the purpose of organizing. When organized, it shall elect a permanent president, a secretary and treasurer. It shall also elect the county chairman, the county vice-chairman and a member of the State committee from the county and as many delegates to the State convention as triple the number of members from the county in the House of Representatives, plus one. But county conventions at their discretion may elect double the number of delegates in which case each delegate shall have one-half vote. The secretary of the convention shall keep a record of the proceedings in the minute book.

All officers except delegates shall be reported to the clerk of court of the county and to the Secretary of State prior to the State convention. The reports shall be public record.

PROCESS EXPLANATION

State elections run on a two year cycle. Some elected officials serve two year terms, while others serve four year terms -- and even six when you include federal offices. The "common denominator" is two years, so every even numbered year is called a "general election year". There is a window of time in which parties are required to reorganize and hold county conventions and then state conventions. Parties that nominate candidates at convention rather than by the primary process also hold nominating conventions. This is done in the spring of each general election year, after the period for candidate filing closes. The Libertarian party currently nominates by convention, so next spring there will be a nominating convention to select our nominees for office.

But what we're doing this April is reorganization. Libertarians in each county get together on the date their county is reorganizing at a specific time. They hold a convention and elect (or re-elect) county officers. This is where the process starts to get confusing.

You'll notice that the instructions and state law mention electing a chair and a vice-chair, AFTER electing a temporary convention president and a permanent convention president. They also talk about the chair calling the convention to order. So who's who? And why do you have all these elections?

The county chair is the person who heads the county committee and runs county meetings. He or she is elected at the convention, and serves until the next convention. Some chairs only serve one term, but they frequently run for re-election. So who runs the meeting to elect them?

This is where the role of the convention president comes in. The chair calls the meeting to order, and he or she has the body (the people in the room) vote to elect someone to run the convention "temporarily" until everyone has verified that they're a registered voter in the county and a member of the party. There's also a "temporary" secretary as well as a credentials committee to make sure that the records regarding credentials are accurate. Once everyone has been verified that they can be a delegate -- and there are lots of rules on that, but we'll skip them for now -- the convention becomes "organized".

In very large conventions it is possible that the temporary president and permanent president will be a different person, but it is very rare. A lot of conventions (even in the "big" parties!) actually forget to elect a temporary president and then a permanent president, but they always hold the election. This position is also referred to as convention chair, so you may hear that used instead by some people. It is the same position.

The convention president may be the same person as the county chair. It may be someone completely different. But it is a bit awkward for a county chair running for re-election against one or more other people to be banging the gavel and running things, so a county chair will usually not be the convention president. It is much easier to have someone running the convention who will not be seeking an office that day, so it is usually done by members of the party who've been around a while and have served and attended a lot of previous conventions and know what needs to get done.

In a large convention this process of credentialing and electing convention presidents and secretaries can take quite a long time, but at your county convention it will probably take only a few minutes.

Then we get down to business.

Now that the convention is "organized" and has elected someone to run it, you hold elections for chair, vice-chair and state committee representative. State law does not require a county to elect a secretary or a treasurer, but the State Party ByLaws do. If you're meeting in front of the court house, it is probably a good idea to temporarily recess after you've elected the permanent president and secretary and know how many delegates you have. There are a lot better places to meet than outside a building, but you already know that. We do it this way to save the time and money of having everyone running their own ads -- and possibly messing something up!

Now...how many people do you need to organize? One. That's it. If you are the only person that shows up, and you are a member of the party and qualified to serve, you have an organized county. Two years in the future, you'll probably have a half-dozen people there because you now exist.

This may seem a bit tongue-in-cheek, but this is exactly how some of the "big" parties started. A few people in a room back then and now hundreds of people at a county convention. So don't panic if you are the only person who shows up to organize. Fill out the paperwork, get the forms stamped and then show up at the next state committee meeting. Now...grab some coffee, go back to the top of the page, and learn how to organize your county party!

Stewart Flood
Chair, South Carolina Libertarian Party