Bylaws

ARTICLE I. Name and Definitions

These are the Bylaws of the Silicon Valley Local of the Democratic Socialists of America (“Silicon Valley DSA”). Below, we use the term “Chapter” to refer to locals of DSA.

ARTICLE II. Purpose

Silicon Valley DSA seeks to build a majority movement to liberate the US from capitalism. Instead of a political-economic system serving an elite few, we envision a society based on democratic control of resources and production, and social and economic justice for all.

ARTICLE III. Membership

Section 1. Qualifications

Membership is open to dues-paying members of DSA who live or work in “Silicon Valley” (Chapter territory recognized by DSA) or nearby, who are not members of another Chapter. Voting powers and offices within Silicon Valley DSA are reserved for members.

Section 2. Dues

Membership dues are set by DSA and must be paid to the DSA National Office. Voluntary dues may be established by Silicon Valley DSA or its Branches, but nonpayment may not restrict membership or participation. “Good standing” is determined by DSA.

Section 3. Active Membership

Members are “active” if they have attended a Silicon Valley DSA Chapter or Branch meeting in the last four months. Notification requirements in these Bylaws only apply for active members.

Section 4. Removal

The Chapter shall expel a member from DSA if found to be (i) in substantial disagreement with the principles or policies of DSA, (ii) consistently engaging in undemocratic or disruptive behavior, (iii) under the discipline of a self-defined democratic centralist org, or (iv) deliberately misrepresenting the positions of (or themselves as speaking for) DSA, the Chapter, or its parts.

A member must submit written charges to the Chapter Committee, which shall give fourteen days notice of a meeting (of the member’s Branch – if unclear, their nearest – or a Special Meeting in that Branch’s territory) and the charges. Expulsion requires a two-thirds vote of Chapter members present, and may be appealed to the DSA National Political Committee.

Section 5. Code of Conduct

The Chapter may institute a Code of Conduct to elaborate on removal criteria, make recommendations on comradely behavior, and set forth grievance and mediation processes.

Section 6. Sexual Harassment and Anti-Discrimination Policy

Sexual harassment and discrimination on the basis of such grounds as age, disability, national origin, race, religion, gender or sexual identity or orientation are antithetical to the principles of democratic socialism and to the vision and mission of Silicon Valley DSA. A member determined to have engaged in sexual harassment or inappropriate discrimination shall be deemed to be in substantial disagreement with the principles or policies of DSA and may be considered for suspension or expulsion under Section 4 of this Article.

Silicon Valley DSA may adopt a formal policy that defines sexual harassment and inappropriate discrimination for purposes of this section and/or prescribes procedures for resolving allegations of sexual harassment or inappropriate discrimination.

Section 7. Conflict of Interest Policy

Silicon Valley DSA shall adopt a policy on conflicts of interest. This policy shall include a definition of conflicts of interest, disclosure requirements, and consequences for violating the policy. The policy shall specify under what circumstances a violator shall be deemed in substantial disagreement with the principles or policies of DSA in the sense of Section 4 of this Article.

Members shall abstain from voting on matters which place them in a conflict of interest.

ARTICLE IV. Branches

Section 1. Territory

Branches are territory-based subgroups, and the Chapter’s primary democratic assembly. Territory may be reassigned by Chapter Committee consensus or a two-thirds Chapter vote.

Section 2. Charter Proposal

Members who wish to form a Branch must submit a proposed charter with (i) a Branch name; (ii) territory; and (iii) signatures of at least ten prospective members (including two initial Co-Chairs). Branches may be chartered by a two-thirds Chapter vote with fourteen days notice. Branches must elect Officers within 3 months of charter ratification.

Section 3. Membership

Each member of Silicon Valley DSA is a member of at most one Branch, as follows:

  1. A member may explicitly choose their Branch at any time.
  2. A member may implicitly choose their Branch by primarily attending meetings of one Branch.
  3. Else, the member is assigned to the Branch in which they live, if there is such a Branch.
  4. If needed, Officers may ask the member to choose a Branch explicitly.

ARTICLE V. Voting

Section 1. Votes

Votes of the Chapter and subgroups are conducted in person at one assembly, except that the Branch meetings collectively shall be treated as a Chapter assembly, and that the Chapter or subgroup may adopt additional rules, including rules that provide for absentee or online voting.

Each member shall have an equal vote. No member may vote at more than one Branch in a 60-day period, or vote at Silicon Valley DSA within 60 days of voting at another Chapter of DSA. No member may vote in elections of more than one Branch in a 60-day period, except that members may freely change their Branch affiliation one time ahead of the Chapter Convention.

ARTICLE VI. Endorsements

Section 1. Ballot Endorsements.

The Chapter, or a Branch, may make a “ballot endorsement” by a three-quarters vote, defined to include endorsements of:

  1. a candidate for external office; or
  2. a proposition appearing on a public ballot; or
  3. a petition to place a candidate or initiative on a public ballot; or
  4. a recall petition; or
  5. a negative endorsement of any of the above.

In other cases, the Chapter Committee shall determine whether an endorsement question will be considered a ballot endorsement, prior to the endorsement vote.

A Working Group may not make ballot endorsements, but may recommend an endorsement by a three-quarters vote. Such recommendations are internal to the Chapter.

A caucus may endorse according to internally democratic rules as long as the caucus does not misrepresent the endorsement as an endorsement by the chapter.

Section 2. Policy Endorsements.

The Chapter, a Branch, or a Working Group may endorse policies or public legislation by a two-thirds vote. A Chapter or Branch steering body may make timely policy endorsements by unanimous consent.

Section 3. Local Questions.

For endorsement questions local to one Branch’s territory, that Branch may endorse according to the thresholds in Sections 1 and 2. Other Branches and the Chapter may not endorse; except that the Chapter may, by a simple majority, join the endorsement already made by the local Branch. The Chapter Committee may pledge interim Chapter support between the Branch endorsement and the Chapter vote.

Branches shall not endorse on questions that are not local. In ambiguous cases, the Chapter Committee shall rule on whether a question is local.

Section 4. Use of Resources.

Significant Chapter resources may only be used to support endorsements made by the Chapter. A Branch may use significant resources for its own endorsements or for a Chapter endorsement.  A Working Group may use significant resources for endorsements by its supervising body or the Chapter, provided the Working Group has not dissented.

Section 5. Dissent.

A Working Group may dissent from Chapter or Branch endorsements by a three-quarters majority, and a Caucus may dissent from Chapter or Branch endorsements by a simple majority.

Section 6. Scheduling Endorsement Votes.

Endorsement votes require fourteen days notice. Votes may be scheduled by the relevant steering body, a petition by five members, as a result of a Working Group recommendation.

ARTICLE VII. Election Methods

Section 1. Method for Proportional Elections

Elections that require proportional representation shall use Single Transferable Vote tallying (Scottish STV or a method approved by the Chapter), modified to accommodate representation requirements.

Before each step of the STV process, let S be the remaining number of seats to be filled. For each representation requirement X (as listed in Section 2), let RX equal the additional number of seats needed to satisfy X. If RX = S, disqualify all candidates that cannot fulfil X.

If all candidates are disqualified, nominations from the floor shall be used to fill any remaining seats, subject to simple majority approval and the same representation requirements. If this does not succeed, the seat is vacant.

Section 2. Method for Co-Chair, Chair, and Vice-Chair Elections

Elections that do not require proportional representation shall use a Condorcet method (Schulze, or another method approved by the Chapter) to rank eligible candidates. To select the winners, proceed through the ranking from first to last. Before each step, disqualify later candidates whose selection would make meeting representation requirements (as listed in Section 3) impossible.

Section 3. Representation Requirements

For elections based on proportional representation as described in Section 1, we use the following representation requirements:

  1. Half of available seats are reserved for members that are not men.
  2. One-third of available seats shall be reserved for persons of color.

When electing Co-Chairs as described in Section 2, we require that one of the two Co-Chairs is not a man.

The above requirements are based on self-identification only. Rounding shall be to the nearest whole number, except that half always rounds down.

Section 4. Chapter and Branch Leadership Elections

When running for an officer position, candidates shall indicate whether they are willing to serve in a Co-Chair role. Voters complete two ballots:

  • A “Branch ballot” where they may rank candidates in their Branch, and
  • A “Chapter ballot” where they may rank candidates Chapter-wide who indicated they are willing to serve in a Co-Chair role.

Branch Officers shall be elected by Branch members per Section 1 using the Branch ballot. The Branch Officers-elect who indicated they are willing to serve in a Co-Chair role are Chair Candidates.

Branch Co-Chairs shall be elected by Branch members per Section 2, using the Branch ballot, with eligible candidates being Chair Candidates from that Branch. Chapter Co-Chairs shall be elected by Chapter members per Section 2, using the Chapter ballot, with all Chair Candidates being eligible.

For any Branches that are not represented by a Chapter Co-Chair, the highest-ranking (per Section 2) Chair Candidate from that Branch wins election as a Vice-Chair of the Chapter.

If Co-Chair or Vice-Chair seats remain unfilled due to lack of Chair Candidates, candidates not running for chair shall be considered eligible.

Section 5. Working Group Co-Chair Elections

Working Group Co-Chairs shall be elected per Section 2. If the Working Group is Chapter-wide, then for any Branch not represented by a Working Group Co-Chair, the highest-ranking candidate from that Branch wins election as a Working Group Vice-Chair.

Section 6. Delegates to National, Regional, and State Bodies

Delegates and alternates to the DSA National Convention or State and Regional bodies shall be elected by the Chapter following the process and requirements in Sections 1 and 2, except that any remaining vacancies after Section 1 is exhausted shall be filled by nomination from the floor and majority approval, with representation requirements no longer applying.

Delegation Chairs or Co-Chairs (if requested by the National, State, or Regional body, or by the Chapter) shall be selected by a Condorcet method from among delegates that indicate willingness to chair the delegation.

Runners-up shall be ranked by the same Condorcet method as in Section 2. All runners-up are eligible to be alternates, up to a maximum of 5 (or a different number voted on by the Chapter). Late nominations for alternates may be approved by a simple majority.

ARTICLE VII. Steering Bodies: Composition

Section 1. Steering Bodies

The steering bodies of the Chapter, and its Branches are the Chapter Committee (or Steering Committee) and the Branch Committees, respectively. Committee members are “Officers.” All officers must be members in good standing of Silicon Valley DSA.

Section 2. Chapter Committee

The voting members of the Chapter Committee are the Branch Officers from all Branches, including two Co-Chairs and optional Vice-Chairs.

Section 3. Branch Committees

Branch Committees have 5 voting members, including two Co-Chairs.

Section 4. Appointed Chapter Officers

The Chapter Committee shall appoint a Treasurer and a Secretary. Co-Chairs of the Chapter or a Branch (or Vice-Chairs of the Chapter) may not hold these roles.

Section 5. Appointed Branch Officers

The Officers of each Branch may appoint an Assistant Treasurer and/or an Assistant Secretary to assist in the Treasurer or Secretary’s duties.

Section 6. Observers on the Chapter Committee

Working Group Co-Chairs and Vice-Chairs, as well as Appointed Chapter and Branch Officers, are non-voting Observers on the Chapter Committee, unless they also hold an at-large seat.

Chapter Co-Chairs are non-voting Observers on each Branch Committee, except for Branch Committees on which they hold an elected seat.

Each Local (or prospective Local) of the Youth Section of DSA in our territory may send two Observers to the Chapter Committee, once that Local is recognized by our Chapter.

ARTICLE IX. Steering Bodies: Duties

Section 1. General Duties

All steering body actions are subject to review by the group. The steering body shall:

  • implement the group’s decisions, and act on its behalf where immediate action is needed
  • foster political education and leadership development
  • organize the group’s meetings and ensure fair, democratic votes and elections
  • coordinate with other parts of the Chapter, and select representation to outside groups
  • support associated Committees or Working Groups and receive their reports
  • authorize expenditures from the group’s funds (for expenses under $100, approval from both Co-Chairs is sufficient)

The steering body may make recommendations to the group by a two-thirds vote, which shall be placed on a Consent Agenda distributed fourteen days ahead of the group meeting.

Co-Chairs shall act as the official public spokespersons for the group.

Section 2. Chapter Committee Duties

Additionally, the Chapter Committee shall facilitate collaboration among the Branches and receive their reports, and communicate with the national DSA.

Section 3. Appointed Chapter Officers

The Treasurer shall have custody of group funds and manage group finances, and shall (i) present budget updates on a quarterly basis, as well as an end-of-year financial statement; (ii) authorize expenditures according to Chapter Committee direction (with prior approval if over $100), preferring contracts with union labor; and (iii) collect dues (if applicable) or donations. If a treasury is kept, it must be deposited in a local credit union, if available. Corporate donations are forbidden.

To help the Chapter work democratically, efficiently, and transparently, the Secretary shall:

  • Ensure timely distribution of notices for upcoming votes, meetings, agendas, and minutes for the Chapter and all of its affiliated parts.
  • Maintain non-confidential Chapter records, including a list of upcoming votes and an archive of past decisions, in an online storage medium easily accessible to members.

Section 4. Meetings

The steering body may meet by mutual agreement. Members of the steering body, including Observers, as well as active members of the Chapter or Branch (as applicable), must be given four days notice; or one day in special circumstances. If a voting member of the steering body objects to the finding of special circumstances, the meeting shall not be held and its decisions are void. A quorum is required. A quorum here is defined as either one-half of voting members or two voting members, whichever number is greater. Written minutes shall be published to the chapter.

The Chapter Committee shall meet at least monthly.

The Chapter Committee may, by a three-quarters majority, adopt a policy on voting between meetings. This policy shall apply to all steering bodies. Minutes shall be published to the Chapter.

Meetings of steering bodies shall be open to members of the Chapter or Branch (as applicable). The steering body shall accommodate speaking time for members to the extent feasible. The steering body may vote to enter Executive Session when discussing sensitive matters such as personnel.

Section 5. Records

Steering body members shall transfer official records in good condition to their successors, including minutes, sign-in sheets, membership lists. and financial records. Under no circumstance may a former Officer keep or make use of non-public official records of the steering body, except to transfer them to their successors or as agreed upon by the steering body.

ARTICLE X. Steering Bodies: Terms, Recall, and Vacancies

Section 1. Terms

Elections shall be held at the Chapter Convention. Terms are year-long, lasting until the next election. If a vacancy is filled, the new Officer serves the remainder of the term.

Section 2. Recall

A referendum for recall of an Officer may be called by a motion of no confidence put forward by five SVDSA members, and shall require a two-thirds vote with fourteen days notice.

Section 3. Vacancies

Individual vacancies may be filled by a majority vote. Otherwise, a new election shall be held for the vacant seat(s) within 45 days, following Article IX and maintaining gender balance.

ARTICLE XI. Meetings

Section 1. Regular Meetings

The Chapter, Branches, Working Groups shall hold Regular Meetings on a set cadence.

The Chapter shall hold Regular Meetings at least three times per year, not counting Branch Meetings that collectively act as the Chapter. Branches shall hold Regular Meetings at least eight times per year. Working Groups shall hold Regular Meetings at least monthly.

The Chapter Committee and Working Groups shall coordinate to set a predictable, recurring cadence for meetings, avoiding timing conflicts if feasible.

Section 2. Chapter Convention

The Chapter shall meet in Convention annually in March (or, at the direction of the membership, in February or April). The Chapter Convention shall feature Officer elections, shall develop a set of Priorities Resolutions to guide the Chapter for the new term, and shall include political education programming such as workshops or guest speakers. Additionally, the Chapter Convention has the same authority as a Regular or Special Meeting of the Chapter.

Section 3. Special and Emergency Meetings

The officers of the Chapter or a Branch, or the leadership of a Working Group, may call an Emergency Meeting of that group on five days notice when an urgent, important matter needs deliberation, or a Special Meeting on fourteen days notice. Emergency Meetings shall only make decisions relevant to the emergency in question.
Special and Emergency Meetings of the Chapter may be held in a single location, or by each Branch, as determined by the Chapter Committee.

ARTICLE XII. Rules of Meetings

Agendas shall be distributed to active members at least seven days ahead of Chapter, Branch, or Working Group meetings. Such meetings reach quorum with one fifth of active members. Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised are the fallback rules of meetings of Silicon Valley DSA bodies. This means that any member may at any time move that the meeting follow Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised.

ARTICLE XIII. Working Groups

Section 1. Definition

Silicon Valley DSA may charter Working Groups for a particular purpose in line with the Chapter’s mission, such as: performing a specific function (e.g., outreach, design), organizing around an issue, project, or campaign (e.g., housing, healthcare).

Section 2. Charter

Members who wish to form a Working Group must propose a charter including (i) a name; (ii) whether it will report to the Chapter or a Branch; (iii) objectives; (iv) initial strategy; (v) duration; (vi) anticipated use of funds; (vii) membership criteria; and, optionally, (viii) leadership structure (see Section 4). The proposed charter must also include a list of at least five prospective Working Group members (including leadership), who are active members of Silicon Valley DSA and have agreed to be listed.

The new Working Group shall be chartered by a vote of the proposed supervising body with fourteen days notice of the proposed charter. The Working Group may propose Charter amendments to be voted on by the supervising body with fourteen days notice.

Section 3. Annual Re-Chartering

The charters of Working Groups created in a prior calendar year expire at the annual Chapter Convention. To re-charter a Working Group, five members must indicate they would like to continue the Working Group. The general membership of the supervising body shall then vote on whether to renew the Working Group. If re-chartered, the Working Group leadership remains the same.

Section 4. Leadership

Working Group leadership shall organize their Working Group, run meetings, and act as liaisons to the supervising body.

In general, each Working Group is led by two Co-Chairs and, if the Working Group is Chapter-wide, additional Vice-Chairs so that all Branches are represented. The Working Group leadership is elected by the Working Group membership.

For some Working Groups that fulfill important functions for the rest of the Chapter, it may be desirable for the Working Group leadership to be elected by the general membership. There are two alternative leadership structures that may be specified in the Working Group charter:

  1. Co-Chairs and Vice-Chairs elected by the general membership of the supervising body, or
  2. One lead organizer per Branch, elected by the general membership of the respective Branch.

Interim Working Group leadership is subject to the same representation requirements as elected Working Group leadership.

New Working Groups shall elect leadership within 3 months of chartering. Working Group leadership terms expire each November and May, for a standard term of 6 months.

Section 5. Recall

A referendum for recall of a Working Group leader may be called by a motion of no confidence put forward by five members of the group that elected that leader (or a majority of the active membership, if this is fewer than five), and shall require a two-thirds vote of that group with fourteen days notice.

Section 6. Records

Working Groups shall maintain meeting minutes to be made available to the Chapter membership. Members maintaining custody of records shall transfer them in good condition to their successors.

Working Group leaders shall track Working Group membership, attendance, and interest. The Chapter Committee shall provide tools for that purpose. The Chapter Committee and Working Group leaders shall jointly manage membership contact information.

Section 7. Branches

Chapter-wide Working Groups may institute a Branch system with the same divisions as the Chapter.

Section 8. Dissolution

Working Groups shall dissolve upon the expiration of their duration, or by non-renewal of their charter, or by a vote of the supervising body, or by resignation or unanimous consent of the active members, transferring all assets to the supervising body.

ARTICLE XVI. Caucuses

Caucuses are subgroups for a constituency (e.g., women, labor, or people of color) or ideological tendency. Members who wish to form a Caucus must submit a proposed charter with (i) a Caucus name; (ii) purpose; (iii) membership criteria; and (iv) a list of at least five prospective Caucus members who are active members of Silicon Valley DSA and have agreed to be listed.

The Chapter Committee must recognize all such groups as Caucuses as long as they align with the Chapter’s purpose (see Article II) and are run democratically. Such recognition shall not be construed as having authority to officially act on behalf of the Chapter. Caucuses are permitted to announce their meetings using the communication channels the Chapter uses to announce meetings of the chapter, and may use the Chapter’s internal forums for discussion. Caucuses may dissolve themselves by notifying the Chapter Committee.

ARTICLE XIV. Amendments

Proposed amendments to these Bylaws must be made by written resolution, endorsed by five members of Silicon Valley DSA, and submitted to the Chapter Committee twenty-one days in advance of the first meeting at which they are to be introduced. The Chapter Committee must provide fourteen days notice. Amendments shall be approved by a two-thirds vote of the Chapter.

ARTICLE XV. Prohibited Activity

Silicon Valley DSA shall not engage in activity prohibited by law, the DSA Constitution and Bylaws, or resolutions of the DSA National Convention or National Political Committee. Any action in contravention of these Bylaws taken by an officer or member of the Chapter, or by any committee or assembly of the Chapter or its Branches, is null and void.

ARTICLE XVI. Dissolution

If Silicon Valley DSA dissolves, all remaining funds and assets shall be released to DSA.

ARTICLE XVII. Ratification

These Bylaws must be ratified by a two-thirds vote of a meeting of each existing Branch to initially take effect, in addition to any requirements in the prior bylaws (unless suspended).