Saturday, October 03, 2009

State GOP Convention newbie impressions

Today I attended my first ever state convention since joining the Republican party in January.  Despite being a county co-chair, I attended as a guest because I was not an elected delegate.  So as an observer only, I jotted down a few observations that I think might be interesting to the long time party insiders and hopefully to the folks that planned this event.

1)Parliamentary procedure either needs to be enforced or re-written.  I understand the need for tradition and some measure of pomp and circumstance, but making motions and voting on the convention chairman, rules committee chair and a few others when they are already printed in the program as being in those positions is silly.  Someone either at the state Central Committee or state Convention level decided who would fill those positions, so to ask the delegates to approve a decision that has already been made is a waste of time.

2)The multimedia ability was sorely under-utilized.  Two large screens on either side of the main stage showed a video image of the speaker or chairman.  What was needed was a source of information on what was being voted on-just like the nightly news displays talking points on the story being talked about, the large screens could have displayed so much more than just video of the current speaker.

3)Nathan Hansen, who made an ass of himself a few months ago by calling Joe Repya and all veterans communists and members of the military industrial complex, settled for making a fool of himself as constitution committee chairman.  Two thirds of the amendments he motioned for had typos in the program, meaning delegates had to rely on his word as to what was being proposed for amendment.  Further more, he was unable to explain fairly simple concepts about what was being proposed.  Worse yet, he was clearly unprepared for the questions that were asked about the amendments he offered. 

4)The seating of delegates and alternates is outdated and needs to be revised.  In the age of the internet, we should be able to know with 90% certainty who is coming and who is present.  The reporting of delegates and alternates present took nearly 34 minutes by by watch.  Again, in the age of the internet, this information could be made available by text message, email, or even by way of computer terminals at the corners of the convention floor.

5)Candidate speeches should be spread out throughout the day, rather than piled up near the end.  No one is listening when they are checking their watches to see how late it is. 

Four months from now, I will be planning and executing a county level convention, so it was very helpful for me to go to the state convention to see how it is run.  But I will make sure not to repeat any of the goofs I saw today.  There is a fine line between adhering to tradition and driving people away with boring procedures that add little to the event.  If the Republican party is going to bring in new and younger members, we need to adapt to get them in the door and keep them in once they are there.


Joe said...

An excellent description of the NMGOP Convention. The only addition that I would have is that the acoustics in the room were very bad. Very difficult to hear.

Jeff said...

Dave - I know you didn't ask, but I was involved with planning a district level convention in 2008, and here were the big takeaways:

1) The Sound System- This was the most important, and where we missed the boat. No one could hear each other. People left frustrated.

2) Registration Process - Have a really good, streamlined registration process for the delegates. Our convention followed the Congressional District convention by a few weeks. We had overflow crowds and a crappy registration process at the CD, which turned off so many people that the crowd for the District was only 1/2 of what we expected. That was a huge problem since the majority of the delegates were first timers, and were so turned off by the process that they never came back.

Have up to date lists, alphabetized, and have someone really knowledgeable running a problem resolution desk. If you take people with issues out of the regular lines everyone is happier.

3) Signs, signs, signs. You can't have too many directional signs or too many rolls of tape.

Again, you didn't ask for advice, but thought I'd share what I learned.

Good luck.

Wendy said...

Amen on the underutilization of technology. Post the delegate counts and amendments on the screens.

If the venue won't budge on the wireless price (and won't let you pay once and give the username/pw to everyone there) then go somewhere else. At least in Roch, you had the option of paying (I think) $10 per day - still a rip off, but more manageable.

It could have been done in a big hotel banquet room - nearly every hotel has free wifi and will give you a user/pw if you are there for an event.

Chris Walden said...

Excellent criticism. I'm a delegate from 32, and literally sat in the front row, so I appreciate the perspective from the back of the room. I also think the modern tech suggestion is a great idea.

I was bit disappointed with Sheriff Stanek's performance as Chair. His position gives him the confidence to take charge of the room, but he seemed to get lost in procedure, and what we were voting for at the time. I'd like to see a convention chair who is also an excellent parliamentarian.