Austin Democratic Socialists of America


Bylaws of the Austin Local
of the Democratic Socialists of America

[Amended 19 Oct 2017]

Article I. Name

The name of the Local shall be the Austin Local of the Democratic Socialists of America.

Article II. Austin DSA Strategy

As Democratic Socialists, we believe that both the economy and society should be run democratically to meet human needs, not to make profits for a few. We envision a society based on racial and gender equality and a fair distribution of resources.

Austin DSA strategy is to unite all democratic socialists into DSA. There are hundreds of democratic socialist sympathizers that live in the Austin area. Our goal is to actively ask them to join DSA so that Austin DSA is not a small group that believes in an idea, but a large organization that actually can affect the work for social and economic justice. Austin DSA agrees with the national DSA in supporting workers’ rights, civil rights, environmental rights, women’s rights, LGBT rights, immigrant rights, and disabled rights. We encourage our members to actively support and participate in the work of their labor unions and advocacy groups on those issues. Austin DSA sees our members’ efforts in these organizations as the direct work of democratic socialists. America needs a strong labor movement and a strong left to win social justice. Austin DSA is committed to working on the above-mentioned issues and supporting the efforts of labor unions in our area.

DSA thinks that justice for the people of the U.S. is directly linked to justice for people throughout the world. Austin DSA will look for ways to take on international issues like the fight against the Trans Pacific Pact.

We choose to build a democratic socialist organization that can fight for a fair and just economic and political system. We recognize the need to overcome divisions of race, gender and class in order to confront economic and social injustice. With so many facing the pain inflicted by a capitalist system with gross inequalities of wealth and power, we choose to fight for a socialist alternative. We are Democratic Socialists of Austin.

Monthly meeting advertised and open to members and supporters. All non-members who attend will be asked to join.
Organizing co-chairs. We will have co-chairs elected on an annual basis. We will have an election in November to affirm them for one year or to replace. The co-chairs will be responsible for making day-to-day decisions for Austin DSA and overseeing Austin’s growth.
Austin DSA committees. Our members work on issues every day in their various left issue groups. When an issue arises that our DSA members feel strongly about, a committee of volunteer DSA members will work on the issues. The Austin DSA co-chairs will coordinate with the issue committee co-chairs on the work. Austin DSA will form committees organically that reflect membership interests and avoid pro-forma committees.

Article III. Membership

Section 1. Membership

Members of the Austin Local DSA will be those individuals whose dues to national DSA are paid in full, who reside and/or work in the Central Texas area. It will be the responsibility of members to approve policies and guidelines for the operation of the Austin DSA, 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. Dues

The local chapter may establish a local pledge system of voluntary donations for its members.

Article IV. Local Meetings

Section 1. General Meeting

The Austin DSA Local will have monthly meetings every month if at all possible.

Section 2. Rules

Austin DSA shall be run according to procedures approved by the members, except that the presiding chair shall make all reasonable efforts to reach a consensus of those members present at the meeting. If, in the opinion of the presiding chair, a consensus is not possible, the chair may entertain a motion on the matter at hand. The motion shall be disposed of according to Robert’s Rules of Order, normally a majority vote.

Article V. Leadership Committee

Section 1. Officers and Terms

The officers of the Austin DSA Chapter will be two co-chairs, the secretary, the treasurer, and the membership coordinator. All positions shall be elected annually in November.

The Leadership Committee will assist the Co-chairs in all aspects of running the Chapter wherever the Co-chairs need assistance.

A quorum for conducting business of the Leadership Committee shall consist of two-thirds of its members.

The Leadership Committee will meet once a month in an open meeting with the co-chairs to help plan general body meetings, events, and make decisions on pressing issues at a time and place to be determined and announced to the membership.

The Leadership Committee may override a decision of the co-chairs by a vote of two-thirds.

Section 2. The Co-Chairs

The Co-Chairs will be the executive officers of Austin DSA. They will preside over Austin DSA meetings. The Chairs will initiate such actions and policies as the Austin DSA’s general welfare may demand and they and their designees will be the official public spokespeople for Austin DSA.

The Co-Chairs will be responsible also for coordinating the day-to-day operations and political work of the Chapter’s committees with their several chairs.

The Co-Chairs will ensure effective communication with the National DSA.

Section 3. The Secretary

The Secretary shall take the minutes of Austin DSA meetings, distribute the minutes of those meetings to the membership, and handle administrative tasks as directed by the Co-chairs or at the request of fellow Leadership Committee members.

They shall collect and distribute the contact information of Leadership Committee members to facilitate the business of the chapter.

Section 4. The Treasurer

The Treasurer shall, as directed by the Leadership Committee, have care and custody of the general funds, securities, properties, and assets of the chapter.

They shall prepare and present a yearly financial report for the January meeting.

Section 5. Membership Coordinator

The Membership Coordinator shall ensure that records are kept of membership, both from membership rosters provided by the national DSA and from outreach of Austin DSA.

They shall be responsible for outreach and communication with new members, inquiries concerning membership or interest in Austin DSA, and any other tasks concerning growing, maintaining, or enhancing membership determined by the Leadership Committee or the Membership as a whole.

Section 6. At-Large Members

There shall be four At-Large Members of the Leadership Committee, who are elected to provide counsel and advice and complement the experience and diversity of the Leadership Committee.

At-Large Members shall be elected at the same time and same manner as Officers.

At-Large Members may chair and serve on any committee required by the Leadership Committee or the Membership as a whole.

Of the four At-Large Members, no more than two can be men and at least one shall be a racial or national minority member of DSA.

Section 7. Vacancies

All vacancies of Officers or members of the Leadership Committee, whether resulting from death, resignation or otherwise, may be temporarily filled through appointment by the Leadership Committee until a vote of the general membership can be held.

Section 8. Removal

Any Officer or member of the Leadership Committee may be removed by a two-thirds vote of the general membership. Any Officer or member of the Leadership Committee may resign in writing. An Officer may resign without ceding their place on the Leadership Committee.

Article VI. Committees

Section 1. Duration.

The Local will have Committees, when needed. The Committees will have co-chairs appointed by the Chapter co-chairs and then approved or replaced by committee members.

Article VII. Delegates to National, Regional, and State Bodies

Section 1. Convention.

Local delegates and alternates to the National Convention will be elected by full members of the local chapter of DSA. Elections for the National Convention delegation shall be held on the schedule announced by the national organization.

Article VIII. Prohibited Activity

The Austin DSA shall not engage in any activity prohibited by resolutions adopted by DSA’s National Convention or DSA’s National Political Committee.

Article IX. Nominations and Elections

Section 1. Nominations and Elections Committee.

A three-member Nominations and Elections Committee shall be established at least one month prior to every election by vote at a Regular Meeting. It shall solicit and receive nominations for the positions to be elected, and tally the votes of the contests.

Section 2. Nominations Process.

Nominations for any contest shall be opened one month in advance of the election. Nominations can be taken up to the election including the election meeting.

Section 3. Elections Process

Approval Voting: For all elections, the default voting method shall be approval voting where each voter may choose as many candidates as desired. The winner is the candidate chosen by the most voters.

Score Voting: By majority vote, the membership may choose to use score voting for any election using a 0-2 scale. For each candidate, a voter may choose 0 to indicate disapproval, 1 to indicate neutral, or 2 to indicate approval of that candidate. The winner of an election conducted with score voting is the candidate with the highest score. A voter who casts an incomplete ballot (does not indicate a score for every candidate) will be assumed to have voted 0 for any unmarked candidates. When counting ballots which contain all votes not clearly indicating a 1 or 2 (e.g., a check or X), votes for a candidate shall be counted as the highest score on the scale.

There shall be no proxy votes permitted, with exceptions made on a case by case basis by the co-chairs for members with disabilities or other mobility issues.

Article X. Amendments

Proposed amendments to these Bylaws must be made by written resolution, endorsed by five members of the Austin chapter of DSA, and submitted to the co-chairs a month in advance of a Regular Meeting. Members will receive notice of any proposed changes.

Article XI. Rules of the Local.

Section 1. Rules.

Austin DSA will run on majority rule and with an opportunity for minority opinions to be heard. Members in good standing who attend a meeting can vote. There shall be no proxy votes or bullet votes permitted.

Article XII. Jurisdiction

The Austin DSA area shall be Austin, Texas and Central Texas from Waco to San Antonio. The core area of Austin DSA will include Austin/Travis County, Bastrop County, Williamson County, Burnet County, Blanco County, Hays County, and Caldwell County. Austin DSA will accept members from the Waco, Temple, Killeen areas until such time as DSA members can form a DSA Organizing Committee in the Waco, Temple, and Killeen areas. Austin DSA will accept members from the San Antonio area until such time we can help form a San Antonio Area Organizing Committee.