DSA Lincoln Draft Bylaws

These DRAFT BYLAWS will be voted on at the June 30 general meeting. Amendments can be emailed to for inclusion as friendly amendments or to be voted on at the June 30 general meeting.

Rationale

These bylaws are an effort to 1) shift our focus away from formal business meetings to working meetings, 2) better define leadership roles to redistribute administrative work and provide more transparency to members, 3) reaffirm our commitment to diversity in leadership, 4) lower the barrier to entry to make it easier for anyone to start their own projects and get involved in local work and 5) rename the organization to affirm our commitment to decolonialism.

Table of Contents

  1. Name & Location
  2. Purpose
  3. Membership
  4. Lincoln Democratic Socialists Meetings
  5. DSA Governance Committee Powers and Duties
  6. Branches
  7. Committees
  8. Delegates to National, Regional, and State Bodies
  9. Prohibited Activity
  10. Nominations & Recalls
  11. Elections
  12. Code of Conduct
  13. Amendments & Rules of Lincoln Democratic Socialists

ARTICLE I. Name & Location

Section 1. Name

The name of the Local Chapter shall be Lincoln Democratic Socialists (LDS), the Lincoln chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA). DSA is a not-for-profit corporation.

Section 2. Location

Residents in the general area of Lincoln, Nebraska are eligible for membership in the Lincoln chapter, including the following zip codes: 68508, 68588, 68509, 68503, 68502, 68542, 68501, 68583, 68521, 68510, 68504, 68522, 68506, 68529, 68505, 68528, 68512, 68507, 68523, 68531, 68516, 68524, 68532, 68514, 68526, 68520, 68339, 68517, 68527, 68336, 68402, 68461, 68430, 68428, 68423, 68438, 68462, 68404, 68317, 68372, 68347, 68360, 68017, 68304, 68368, 68418, 68366, 68419, 68065, 68405, 68333.

ARTICLE II. Purpose

Lincoln Democratic Socialists 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.

Lincoln Democratic Socialists 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.

Lincoln Democratic Socialists 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 Lincoln Democratic Socialists chapter will be those individuals who are members of National DSA in good standing who reside and/or work in the Lincoln area. It will be the responsibility of members to approve policies and guidelines for the operation of LDS, 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. Resignation and Removal of Members

Any member may resign from National DSA by submitting an email or letter of resignation to the National Director of National DSA. Any member may resign from the Lincoln chapter and become an at-large member of National DSA by sending an email or letter of resignation to both the LDS Governance Committee  and the National Director. Furthermore, 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.) LDS 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 LDS Governance Committee, which shall set the date of a LDS 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 LDS 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

LDS may establish a chapter-specific pledge system of voluntary donations for its members. The payment or nonpayment of a Local Chapter donation may not deny membership or the privileges or the powers of membership to any individual that is in good standing of National DSA, including voting or for holding elected chapter positions. Members may not face retaliatory action for the nonpayment of donations or preferential treatment for paying local donations. The collection of dues implicitly creates the requirement of drafting a budget that is clear and transparent for all chapter members.

ARTICLE IV. Lincoln Democratic Socialists Meetings

Section 1. General Meetings

LDS will hold an annual General Meeting on the last Sunday of June, and all members of the chapter will receive three weeks’ written (or electronic mail) notice and an agenda of the General Meeting. The General Meeting will elect LDS Chapter Representatives to the Governance Committee and may adopt an annual budget.

Section 2. Regular Meetings

LDS 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 Governance Committee. The Regular Meetings will set chapter policy and work priorities and will include political education sessions.

The Governance Committee will set the agenda for Regular Meetings. In general, the Regular Meeting is the operating legislative body of the chapter.

Section 3. Emergency Meetings

The Governance Committee or 20% of members in good standing may call an Emergency Meeting of the chapter on as few as 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 General, Regular or Emergency meetings to make the proceedings of that meeting valid. Twenty percent of LDS members in good standing (but not fewer than six persons) shall constitute a quorum for General, Regular, or Emergency Meetings.

Section 5. Informal Meetings

To promote community and group cohesion, it is recommended that LDS hold at least one informal meeting, social event or other group action per week.

ARTICLE V. LDS Governance Committee Powers and Duties

Section 1. Governance Committee Members and Terms

  1. The Governance committee will include:

    1. Five elected LDS Chapter Representatives.
    2. A designee of each LDS Youth Section
    3. A designee of each LDS Branch
  2. The general election for Chapter Representatives shall be administered as a five-winner election.
    1. Any position or role may be abdicated with consensus of the Governance Committee.
  3. The term of office for each Chapter Representative shall be one year and shall run from August 1 to July 31 the following year or until their successors begin their term. The month of July shall be focused on onboarding and training the newly-elected Governance Committee prior to the start of their term.
  4. Diversity Requirements
    1. The makeup of the five LDS elected representatives shall consist of:

      1. At least two gender identities.
      2. At least one minority with respect to race, sexual orientation, country of origin, and/or religion.
    2. 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):
      1. The Election Committee will analyze the potential makeup of the Chapter Representatives as a whole as it will exist after the election.
      2. 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:
        1. The Election Committee will inform the existing Governance Committee of its determination that the diversity requirements have not been met.
        2. An additional temporary Chapter Representative position will be created, its term to expire according to V.1.c. and be eliminated at said expiration.
        3. 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.
  5. In the event of a vacancy (or vacancies) of a Representative, LDS will elect a replacement (or replacements) for the remainder of the term at the Regular Meeting.
    1. 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

  1. The Chapter Representatives shall be responsible for coordinating the day-to-day operations and political work of the chapter.
  2. The Chapter Representatives shall report to 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.
  3. The Chapter Representatives shall share responsibility for answering all correspondence and queries of LDS, and for maintaining an up-to-date membership list of the chapter. They will ensure effective communication with the national DSA.
  4. Each Chapter Representative shall fill one of four roles described in the following sections, attending to chapter needs of communication, engagement, outreach and record-keeping. Each of these roles must be filled by a Chapter Representative. Chapter Representatives shall select roles based on interest and skills.
    1. Within two weeks of the beginning of their term, members of the Governance Committee shall determine roles using formal consensus.
    2. Each Chapter Representative shall fill no more than one role at a single time.
    3. All role assignments, and changes to role assignments must be announced to the general membership.
    4. Chapter Representatives may change roles at any point in their term as decided by the Governance Committee through formal consensus.
    5. In the event that any representative is temporarily unable to perform their duties due to extenuating circumstances, another member of the Governance Committee shall assume their responsibilities.
  5. The LDS Chapter Representatives will initiate such actions and policies as the chapter’s general welfare may demand.
  6. 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. Governance Committee Roles

Communication

  1. The Chapter Representative(s) filling the communications role will serve as the public representative and primary media contact(s) for the Lincoln chapter.
    1. Additional responsibilities include managing social media, maintaining the efficacy of internal chapter communication, and the promotion of chapter events.
  2. In the event that the communication representative 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.

Engagement

  1. The Chapter Representative(s) filling the engagement role will serve as principal internal organizers for the chapter.
    1. Responsibilities include organizing social events, conducting organizing conversations, driving event turnout, surveying members and creating a strong pipeline into leadership by moving members up the ladder of engagement.
  2. As a central piece of the chapter’s work, it is recommended to have two Chapter Representatives working actively in this role.

Outreach

  1. The Chapter Representative(s) filling the outreach role will act as the primary liaison between the Lincoln chapter and other groups or communities with which the chapter seeks to collaborate and organize.
    1. Responsibilities include staying informed of relevant events, meetings and actions of other groups; planning participation and/or collaboration between LDS and other groups; and representing LDS in the broader Lincoln community.
    2. The Chapter Representative(s) filling the outreach role will maintain a consistent chapter calendar, detailing events and actions relevant to chapter membership.
    3. The Chapter Representative(s) filling the outreach role will work with other members of the Governance Committee to develop a member recruitment and chapter growth plan.

Record-Keeping

  1. The Chapter Representative(s) filling the record-keeping role will serve as chapter treasurer, documentarian and archivist.
    1. The Chapter Representative(s) filling the record-keeping role will be responsible for the funds and financial records of LDS. All funds collected by the chapter will be turned over to the Chapter Representative(s) filling the record-keeping role, who shall deposit them in a bank account under the name of Lincoln Democratic Socialists.
    2. In cooperation with the Governance Committee, the Chapter Representative filling the record-keeping role shall:
      1. Be responsible for ensuring that chapter members are in good standing with national DSA (dues are paid or any relevant waivers are complete).
      2. Prepare the annual LDS budget to be approved by a simple majority at an annual General Meeting.
      3. Deliver the LDS financial report to the General Meeting, as well as periodic progress reports as requested by the Governance Committee.
  2. The Chapter Representative filling the record-keeping role shall ensure accurate minutes are taken at all Regular and Governance Committee Meetings, and shall have custody of these minutes and the resolutions, reports and other official records of LDS.
    1. Meeting minutes shall be posted and stored in a timely manner using a method that is easily accessible for all Lincoln chapter members.
  3. The Chapter Representative filling the record-keeping role shall transfer official records in good condition to their successors. Official records shall include meeting minutes and member lists.

Section 4. Governance Committee Responsibilities

  1. The Governance Committee administers the affairs of Lincoln Democratic Socialists 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 chapter, and to act on any matter that requires immediate and urgent action. The Governance Committee is the regular executive body of LDS, and thus subordinate to its Legislative bodies: the General and Regular Meetings.
  2. The LDS Governance Committee shall be responsible for establishing program activities for the 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 chapter meetings.

Section 5. Meetings & Quorum

  1. The meetings of the Governance Committee will be held 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.
  2. The Governance Committee will rotate the responsibilities of assuming the powers and duties of the presiding officer according to The Circle Way.
  3. A quorum of two-thirds of the Governance Committee is required for the transaction of Governance Committee business.
  4. Any member of LDS  in good standing may observe meetings of the Governance Committee. However, the Governance Committee may hold executive sessions if two-thirds of its members vote to do so in order to discuss member discipline or security matters.

ARTICLE VI. Branches

Section 1. Definition

A branch is a subgroup of Lincoln Democratic Socialists 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., anti-imperialism, climate justice). A designee, selected by the branch, will hold membership on the chapter Governance Committee.

Section 2. Youth Sections

Branches established on college campuses and consisting of students will be called LDS Youth Sections. Youth Sections must have at least five full members in good standing with national DSA. A designee, selected by the LDS Youth Section, will hold membership on the LDS Governance Committee.

Section 3. Formation

Branches may be formed by a simple majority vote at a General or Regular meeting.

ARTICLE VII. Committees

Section 1. Duration

The chapter will have Ad Hoc Committees, which will exist for a limited and explicit duration.

Section 2. Duties

A representative from Ad Hoc Committees will keep the Governance Committee and the Regular Meetings of the chapter informed on the activities of the committee.

Section 3. Formation

Ad Hoc Committees may be established by a simple majority vote of full members at a General, Regular or Emergency Meeting of the chapter.

ARTICLE VIII. Delegates to National, Regional, and State Bodies

Section 1. Convention

Lincoln chapter delegates and alternates to the National Convention will be elected by full members of Lincoln Democratic Socialists. 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

Lincoln Democratic Socialists shall not engage in activity prohibited by the IRS guidelines established for 501 (c) 4 organizations or similar rules established by the state of Nebraska. Nor shall LDS 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 or Emergency 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.

Section 2. Nominations Process

Nominations for Lincoln chapter Chapter Representative and delegates to the National Convention shall be opened 10 days before and closed at a General Meeting. The call for nominations shall be announced to full members of DSA in advance of the General Meeting.

Section 3. Recall

Members may petition for the removal an elected representative by collecting signatures of 20% of the membership, and having a majority of those present at a Regular or Emergency meeting vote in favor of removal. Membership must be given at least two weeks’ notice of any upcoming removal vote.

ARTICLE XI. Elections

Section 1. Election Committee

For each and every election, a three-person Election Committee shall be appointed by the Governance Committee at a Regular Meeting by vote of a Regular Meeting. It 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.

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

  1. 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. The candidate receiving the most votes will be declared the winner.
  2. 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:
    1. 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.)
    2. 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.)
    3. Apply the appropriate weight to each ballot individually until all ballots have been (re-)weighted as necessary.
    4. Total the scores for each candidate by recounting all of the ballots, using the newly-calculated weight on a per-ballot basis.
    5. At the end of each round of calculation, the candidate with the most points wins.
  3. 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.
  4. 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. Code of Conduct

The Local Chapter will establish, by vote of a General or Regular Meeting, a code of conduct (CoC) that outlines the boundaries of acceptable behavior by members of Lincoln Democratic Socialists and describes options for censure of members, including suspension. The CoC shall be made available to all members of the chapter. Amendments to the Code of Conduct must be approved at General or Regular meeting.

ARTICLE XIII. Amendments & Rules of Lincoln Democratic Socialists

Section 1. Amendments to the Bylaws

Proposed amendments to these Bylaws must be made by written resolution, endorsed by five LDS members, and submitted to the Governance Committee at least one month in advance of a General or Regular Meeting. The Governance Committee is required to provide the chapter 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) chapter meetings.

Section 2. Rules

The current edition of The Standard Code of Parliamentary Procedure shall govern Lincoln Democratic Socialists 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. Action Out of Order

Any action taken by a Chapter Representative or member of the Lincoln Democratic Socialists in contradiction with these Bylaws is null and void.