A precinct is a geographic area that covers all the people who live within a certain voting district. Political parties, lobbying groups and politicians organize their volunteers by precincts so they can concentrate their efforts in small pieces through their precinct committees. Everyone in the country belongs to a precinct. Though you won’t be paid, you can wield a lot of political power in your party and in your neighborhood when you assume the role of precinct captain.
Help Party Leaders
The staff members, who are being paid, rely on precinct captains to organize campaigns and voter rolls. If you are ever interested in being a paid political staff member, then being a precinct captain is a good step toward building the relationships and networks that you can turn to when you hear of an opening. The staff of your party or politician on whose committee you serve may send you out to take polls, run voter registration campaigns or recruit other volunteers to go door-to-door campaigning.
Elect Voting Representatives
The precinct captains are the ones who elect the voting members of the party that are sent to state and regional conventions. In a presidential campaign, you’ll take part in electing the people who eventually represent your state at the national conventions. Precincts are a way for individual voters to participate in the political process at a grassroots level. And it’s the captain in the neighborhood who steps up to take the responsibility for local races and maybe lands one of the coveted voting spots during the next presidential election.
Get Others Involved
There are approximately 180,000 precincts in America, according to the Christian Coalition. Each precinct has between 500 and 1,000 voters. People get involved in politics more readily when they’re asked in person. It’s one of the main jobs of the precinct captain to get like-minded voters involved. They might hold town hall-type meetings and sign up volunteers to pass out fliers or yard signs. Precinct captains can hold coffee meetings and visit with potential voters and donors personally to ask for help.
What It Takes
There aren’t a lot of job requirements to be a precinct captain. The only rule is that you have to be a registered voter. You don’t have to back any particular candidate to join the precinct committee of a political party or lobbying group -- just support the issues of that organization. Precinct captains usually come forward to volunteer for the positions or are recruited by paid staff members who recognize your leadership capabilities through your other community involvement. The primary consideration you need to make is whether you have the time and dedication to work diligently when elections roll around.
Linda Ray is an award-winning journalist with more than 20 years reporting experience. She's covered business for newspapers and magazines, including the "Greenville News," "Success Magazine" and "American City Business Journals." Ray holds a journalism degree and teaches writing, career development and an FDIC course called "Money Smart."