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Certification and Endorsement Rules

Whatcom County Democratic Central Committee Originally adopted May 11, 2005; Amended: Summer 2005; Jan. 11, 2006; April 15, 2010; Nov. 17, 2011; April 16, 2015; March 15, 2018; March 13, 2019; Oct. 9, 2019; Feb. 27, 2021; March 27, 2022; February 25, 2023; March 23, 2024

1. Adoption and Amendment:

This policy may not be amended less than 30 days prior to an endorsement meeting of the Central Committee, and the policy is to remain the same for the following full Primary/General election cycle.

2. Resources for Democratic Candidates Pre-Endorsement:

(a) Definition: Candidates who publicly declare themselves Democrats and are members in good standing of Whatcom Democrats may receive access to Party resources prior to endorsement if they are certified as a democrat pursuant to section 2 (b). Candidates must personally make a written request for certification to the Whatcom Democrats Chair, and, as specified further on, to PCOs. Certification does not imply endorsement by the Party. Candidates may not refer to certification in their campaign or publicity, but the party has no authority to bar them from describing themselves as “Democrat.” Candidates running for judicial office are not required to declare themselves Democrats nor must they be members in good standing of the Whatcom Democrats in order to receive certification or endorsement.


(b) Certification: In order to be certified as a Democrat, a candidate must complete a questionnaire regarding items in the Whatcom Democrats’ latest Platform and Resolutions which will be written jointly by the Chairs of the Issues and Advocacy Committee and the Candidates Committee. The completed questionnaire shall be made available to Democratic PCOs in order to determine certification, and to members of the Whatcom County Democrats if the candidate seeks endorsement, and the Chair may make the questionnaire available to others at the discretion of the Chair. The questionnaire shall not be posted on the Whatcom Democrats website, and shall not be further distributed except as above. The E-board shall not use its content as a criterion for certification. The sole purposes of the questionnaire are 1) to ensure that candidates are aware of, and respond to, Platform and resolution planks relevant to the office they are seeking, and 2) to inform PCOs in determining who to certify and members in choosing who to endorse. After completing the questionnaire, the candidate must submit a written application to the Chair of the WCDCC that:

​a. includes a statement that the candidate has adopted and will implement a Code of Conduct for the candidate’s campaign that includes at least provisions which

  1. Commits the candidate, all staff, volunteers, and contractors to a workplace that is free of harassment, bullying, and intimidation; 

  2. Ensures that all are aware of the code; 

  3. Promises zero tolerance for sexual assault and harassment; 

  4. Designates a person, separate from campaign leadership, who can be contacted with concerns regarding violation of the Code of Conduct.

  5. The candidate must post their Code of Conduct on their campaign website, Facebook page, and other similar social media spaces, where applicable, as well as submit the URL or equivalent locator to the Whatcom Democrats Chair                          B . demonstrates one of the following:                                                                                                                                   1.Twelve written (paper or electronic) declarations from Precinct Committee Officers from Whatcom County, at least half of whom represent precincts voting in the general election (not primary election) for that office, stating that they believe the candidate would faithfully represent the values of the Democratic Party in office.                                                                   2. Strong background in Democratic Party issues and politics and wishes for the Chair to approve their application for certification based on those factors: including, but are not necessarily limited to: length of membership to a Democratic Party, involvement in Democratic issues, past donations to Democratic candidates, work with nonprofits whose work closely parallels Democratic Party values. Approval by the chair requires ratification by the Executive Board by majority vote.

(c) Approval and Appeal: The Chair may approve (or not) the candidate for certification upon receipt of these materials. If approved, see section 5. If the Chair does not approve the certification and the candidate wishes to appeal to the Executive Board for additional consideration, the Executive Board will consider the candidate’s application no later than their next regular meeting using the same criteria outlined above.

(d) Timing: Certification and the resulting access to party resources is intended to provide resources early in the Primary campaign. Candidates may request certification any time after filing with the Public Disclosure Commission their intent to run. Once a candidate has been endorsed according to these rules, no other candidate for the same office may be certified for purposes of gaining access to party resources.

(e) Losing Certification Benefits: Once a candidate has been endorsed by the membership in accordance with this Endorsement Policy, resources being provided to competing candidates for the same position will be withdrawn. Data unique to a candidate’s campaign, such as volunteer records, stored in a party-owned database, is considered the property of the candidate, and will be made available to their campaign. If for any reason the validity of a certification of a candidate as a “Democrat” is questioned, certification may be withdrawn using the same criteria and appeal process described in Section 2.b.

(f) Rescinding Certification: Certification may be rescinded by a 60% vote of the Executive Board at a special or regular meeting only if new evidence is presented to the Executive Board showing that the certified candidate is more likely than not to be unqualified for certification under the criteria for certification listed in Sections 2(a) and (b) above. At the Executive Board meeting at which the question of revocation of certification is considered, the candidate shall be given time to present their case and may introduce witnesses in their defense. The Executive Board shall set the procedural rules for this hearing, including without limitation time limits and voting procedures and whether the voting shall be by secret ballot or public vote.

3. Endorsement:

(a) Current endorsement policy shall be made available to the public through the website and copies available at our office.

(b) Candidates must specifically make a request for consideration of endorsement to the Whatcom Democrats Chair pursuant to subparagraph 3 (c). If a candidate is prohibited by law from asking for our endorsement, or is a candidate for judicial office, then a member of the Whatcom Democrats may request endorsement on their behalf. The Whatcom Democrats take no responsibility for initiating endorsement for a candidate or ballot measure.

(c) Any person who has filed for election or who has filed the documents necessary to be a write-in candidate for whom votes will be counted must notify the Chair in writing or by electronic message not less than three calendar days before the day of the Endorsement Meeting.  Unless the candidate has been certified under paragraph 2 of this Endorsement Process, a candidate seeking endorsement must also send the Chair a completed questionnaire for the office sought and a statement that the candidate has adopted a Code of Conduct as is required of those candidates seeking certification pursuant to Paragraph 2.

(d) The Chair, in consultation with the Executive Board, will make every effort to schedule endorsement meetings for the election cycle, in advance, and publicize the dates to the public. The Executive Board may choose to conduct the Endorsement process by electronic means over a period of several days so long as the secret ballot is preserved.

(i) The first Endorsement Meeting shall be held not less than 7 calendar days nor more than 28 calendar days after the filing period ends. Endorsement Meetings for ballot propositions may be held at any time.

(ii) In races where there are at least two candidates that are certified Democrats and no more than one other candidate, there will be no endorsement until after the primary election. In races where there are at least two candidates that are certified Democrats and more than one other candidate, the default is that there will be no endorsement until after the primary election, but the E-Board may decide to hold an endorsement vote if there is a significant chance that no certified Democrat will otherwise emerge in the top two.

(iii) An Endorsement Meeting for an office where the person endorsed by the Whatcom Democrats loses the Primary Election may be held not less than 7 or more than 21 calendar days after the Primary Election date unless the Executive Board delays this meeting until the Primary Election has been certified. At this meeting candidate endorsements shall also be made in all races where the Whatcom Democrats have yet to endorse a candidate.

(iv) After the Primary Election if two certified Democrats are the winners, these two may request in writing to the Chair that no endorsement for that race take place. In such a case, their access to the non-consumable resources of the Whatcom Democrats continues until the General Election, they may refer to themselves as Certified Democrats and they will be identified as such by the Whatcom Democrats.

(v) A reconsideration or possible withdrawal of an endorsement or dual endorsements is only granted under extraordinary circumstances. Such action first requires a 60% vote of the Executive Board present and voting, followed by a 60% vote to reconsider or withdraw, made by the membership at a duly noticed meeting. At the Executive Board and membership meetings at which the question of reconsideration or revocation of endorsement is considered, the candidate shall be given time to present their case and may introduce witnesses in their defense. The Executive Board shall set the procedural rules for both hearings, including without limitation time limits and voting procedures and whether the voting shall be by secret ballot or public vote.

(e) The definition of a meeting contained in the Bylaws shall govern all Endorsement Meetings.

(f) Endorsements shall be made by votes of the Central Committee taken either by ballot at an in-person meeting or through a secure online voting system. Bylaws Art. IV, Sec.3.3.

(g) No endorsement vote may be taken by the membership without standard notice to the membership on the Whatcom Democrats website, social media page(s), and through email. Members may request notification by mail.

(h) Executive Board shall strive to provide the membership with information in advance of the endorsement vote about the candidate and ballot measures being considered. In all cases, competing candidates for the Democratic Party endorsement will be offered equal time or space to present their qualifications.

(i) In coordination with the Issues & Advocacy Committee, The Candidates Committee will present information on all candidates and ballot propositions to the central committee which has been gathered through a standardized process, including a questionnaire reflecting key issues for Whatcom Democrats.


4. Voting Procedure:


(a) Candidates (or a surrogate) shall be provided an opportunity to present their qualifications and positions to the Central Committee, on an equal basis with other candidates and according to available time in the meeting. Members shall be provided an opportunity to ask questions, also in accordance with available meeting time.

(b) The Chair, in consultation with the Executive Board, shall establish a balloting or voting method that will facilitate a fair and efficient process, and prepare the necessary materials in advance.


(c) In all votes, the voters shall always have the choice of “no endorsement.” A vote cast for “no endorsement” shall be counted as a vote in that race for purposes of calculating a 60% majority.


(d) Eligibility to vote and quorum requirements are prescribed in the bylaws. In addition, party members become eligible to vote on endorsements 14 days after the day they sign up and pay annual membership dues. However, anyone whose annual membership has expired within six months of the endorsement vote may participate in the vote upon renewal of membership and payment of annual membership dues.


(e) 60 percent of votes cast in a race or measure is required for endorsement.


5. Party Resources:


(a) Once a candidate is certified or endorsed, all WCDCC non-consumable resources will be made available to the candidate that can be shared equally amongst the competitors including, but not necessarily limited to: WCDCC’s voter data, membership lists, fundraising lists, office space, and institutional communications with its memberships (such as having event invitations in newsletters etc.) The Executive Board will vote on what resources will and will not be allowed if there are disagreements between the Chair and members of the Executive Board on what resources to grant to candidates.


(b) In addition, endorsed candidates and ballot measures may be granted consumable resources, such as cash donations, at the discretion of the Executive Board and in accordance with existing campaign plans and priorities.

6. Special Policy for the County Charter Review Commission election of 2024


A. This Section 6 shall apply only to the election of County Charter Review Commissioners in 2024. This Section 6 shall be of no force and effect after that election and shall be removed from this Endorsement Policy on or after December 31, 2024.


B. The Endorsement Meeting for the 2024 election of Charter Review Commissioners shall take place at the same time and place, and under the same rules, as the Endorsement Meeting held after the primary election of August 6, 2024, as set out in Section 3 of this Endorsement Policy, provided that:


    (1) The Executive Board shall determine if one, two, or three candidates for Charter Review Commissioner in each County Commissioner District shall be endorsed in that District based on potential electability in each District, with each member being able to vote for up to that number of candidates (e.g., if 3 candidates to be endorsed, may vote for up to three). Regardless of the number of candidates to be endorsed in each District, ballots will allow members to rank the candidates in order of preference. Members are not required to rank all the candidates.


    (2) Endorsement shall be awarded to the winning candidate(s) according to a Ranked Choice Voting tabulation implemented by the Election Buddy software as documented here:


   (3)  Any ties shall be decided by a flip of a coin held by the Chair of the Whatcom Democrats, unless the Chair is one of the tied candidates, in which case the coin shall be held and flipped by the First Vice Chair.


   (4) If an Endorsed Candidate for Charter Review Commission chooses not to run, withdraws, or is disqualified, then the candidate with the next highest vote total shall be endorsed.


   (5) For the sake of clarity, the usual 60% threshold for endorsement will not apply here.



Difference Between Party Endorsement And Party Nomination

A political party endorsement is a statement of support of a candidate for public office. It is also an internal policy decision saying where the organization’s resources will be spent. It is no different than a PTA, voter’s league, or labor union picking which candidates they want to support and work for. This is why we require membership in the Whatcom Democrats in order to vote on our endorsement decisions.


A party endorsement has no direct effect on which candidates may run for office. Endorsement does not decide which candidates qualify for the general election ballot, the way a party nomination normally would.

State election law governs the rules of the Primary Election, and currently, in Washington State, primary elections are run like non-partisan primaries, advancing the top two vote-getters to the General Election ballot, regardless of party affiliation. Primaries (in WA State) for partisan offices do not constitute a party nomination process.

Only voters casting a ballot in a Primary Election have the power to eliminate, or advance, a candidate to the general election ballot.


Since we do not hold public nominating primary elections in Washington at this time, the Washington State Democratic Party has adopted its own process and rules to designate who is the nominee of the “Democratic Party” in partisan races in Washington. These rules have no direct impact on the endorsement policy of the Whatcom Democrats.

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