Bylaws and Rules of the California High School Democrats
The California High School Democrats (CAHSD) abides by the following bylaws, which govern organizational functions, elections, and leadership. CAHSD leadership consists of an Chair and Vice Chair elected annually, and an appointed Executive Board that works to conduct statewide initiatives and plan events. Each chartered chapter runs independently with its own leadership and is subject to all pertaining requirements of the CAHSD Bylaws. As CAHSD is a state chapter of the High School Democrats of America (HSDA), chartered under Section 510 of the HSDA Bylaws, all CAHSD chapters and members operate under both organizations.
Article I: Name
Section 110 Name
This organization shall be known as the California High School Democrats, which may be abbreviated as CAHSD.
Article II: Policy
Section 210 Organizational Functions
Pursuant to Section 210 of the Bylaws of the High School Democrats of America (HSDA), the California High School Democrats shall:
- Engage our fellow students to be active in the Democratic Party and the entirety of the American political system
- Actively support Democratic nominees in local, state, and national elections and shall conduct an active campaign in support of Democratic nominees
- Be forbidden from endorsing any candidate for office who has yet to win their respective primary election
- Make its principle mission the identification, training, and recruiting of Democratic activists in High School, and the insertion of Democratic messaging into high school
Article III: Organization
Section 310 State Organization
The California High School Democrats shall be composed of the Executive Board as well as other bodies and positions created at the discretion of the State Chair.
Section 320 Regional Organization
California High School Democrats shall be comprised of two (2) sections, each with five (5) regions to a total of ten (10) regions which shall be called as following:
- The North State Region shall consist of Siskiyou, Modoc, Shasta, Lassen, Nevada, Plumas, Glenn, Butte, Sierra, Colusa, Sutter, Sacramento, Yolo, Placer, El Dorado, Tehama, and Yuba Counties.
- The North Coast Region shall consist of Del Norte, Humboldt, Lake, Marin, Mendocino, Napa, Sonoma, and Trinity Counties.
- The Bay Area Region shall consist of Alameda, Contra Costa, Monterey, Solano, San Benito, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, and Santa Cruz Counties.
- The North Valley Region shall consist of Amador, Alpine, Calaveras, Mariposa, Merced, Mono, San Joaquin, Stanislaus, and Tuolumne Counties.
- The South Valley Region shall consist of Fresno, Inyo, Kern, Kings, Madera, and Tulare Counties.
- The Central Coast region shall consist of San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, and Ventura Counties.
- The Los Angeles Region shall consist of Los Angeles County.
- The Inland Empire Region shall consist of Riverside and San Bernardino Counties.
- The Orange County Region shall consist of Orange County.
- The South State Region shall consist of Imperial and San Diego Counties.
Section 330 Local Organization
The California High School Democrats shall organize its membership into local and regional units which will serve to perform the purpose of this organization in their respective jurisdictions. Local chapters will be subject to all pertaining requirements of this document.
Section 340 Parent Organization
The California High School Democrats shall:
- Operate as the official California state chapter of the High School Democrats of America; codes set forth by the HSDA Bylaws supersede those found in this document
- Maintain a relationship as a parent organization to all local chapters
Article IV: Membership
Section 410 General Membership
Any self-identified Democrat in a California high school, or any Democrat who is a California resident, being a public, private, or home school student, shall be eligible for active membership in this organization. Memberships shall remain eligible until three (3) months after high school.
Section 420 Membership Guidelines
All members of the California High School Democrats shall be granted the following rights:
- Members can vote in any statewide CAHSD election after thirty (30) days of consecutive membership
- Members will not be discriminated against based on gender, sexual orientation, race, religion, age, socioeconomic status, nationality, disability, or any other factor that could cause discrimination
- Members must not receive a membership test or oath albeit they must declare support for the Democratic Party
- Members shall all have the opportunity to run for state office and the state executive board after two (2) months of membership
Article V: Local Chapters
Section 510 Chartering Requirements
In order for a chapter to be chartered with the California High School Democrats, the State Chair must confirm that the chapter has at least three (3) members, all of whom are registered, or plan to register, as members of the California High School Democrats.
Section 520 Chapter Types
Chapters may be chartered as either:
- A high school chapter centered at a school
- A community chapter centered within a community or locality
- A county chapter centered within a county
Section 530 Chapter Requirements
The following regulations apply to all local chapters:
- Registered chapters must maintain close contact with the California High School Democrats as is necessary to further the mission and goals of this organization
- Chapter members must be registered as members of the CAHSD
- Registered chapters shall be required to guarantee all rights owed to their members by state and national bylaws
- Chapters are encouraged to have democratically-elected leadership within a year of first meetings
Section 540 Chapter Revocation
Any chapter not in compliance with this document or shown to be violating the principles of the California High School Democrats may have their chapter charter revoked by a simple majority vote of the Executive Board. Chapters whose charters have been revoked shall not be allowed to reform with similar organization as a new chapter, unless granted approval by a simple majority vote of the Executive Board.
Section 550 Chapter Privileges
Local chapters that have been chartered shall have the privilege of participating in both the California High School Democrats and the High School Democrats of America. All registered members of chartered local chapters shall be considered members of this organization.
Article VI: Executive Board
Section 610 Role of the Executive Board
The Executive Board shall see to the functioning and growth of this organization and its programs.
Section 620 Composition of the Executive Board
The Executive Board of the California High School Democrats shall be composed of the elected offices of Chair and Vice Chair. Other positions on the Executive Board will be appointed and created at the discretion of the Chair.
Section 630 Tenure of Executive Board Members
Elected members of the Executive Board shall serve for a term of no more than one year after their election, after which they shall either graduate, seek re-election, or discontinue their role. Appointed members of the Executive Board shall serve for a term of no more than one year after their appointment, after which they may seek appointment by the newly elected Chair or discontinue their role.
Section 640 Duties of the Executive Board
The Executive Board shall have the following responsibilities and duties:
- The State Chair shall serve as the Chief Executive of the California High School Democrats, set the agenda, and chair all meetings of the Executive Board, as well as serve as the official voice of this organization. The State Chair must also execute and obey all rules and resolutions adopted by this organization.
- The Vice Chair shall fulfill all duties of the State Chair in the absence of the office holder and manage the staff of this organization.
- The Chair and Vice Chair may appoint state staff to aid in fulfilling organization responsibilities and furthering the goals of CAHSD as a whole.
Section 650 Causes for Impeachment
The Chair and Vice Chair are subject to impeachment and removal from office for failure to fulfill assigned duties or for violation of any law or rule of this organization, the Democratic Party, or for the commission of high crimes and misdemeanors, or for generally inappropriate conduct.
Section 660 Impeachment Process
Appointed members of the Executive Board may be removed by the Chair, with the consent of the Vice Chair, at any time.
One-fifth (⅕) of the Executive Board may petition to trigger the impeachment process of the Chair or Vice Chair. Subsequently, a meeting of the Executive Board shall be called, in which the initial petitioners shall call upon another HSDA elected leader (from a statewide or nationwide position) to preside and oversee the proceedings. It shall be the duty of the presiding HSDA elected leader to ensure that the process of impeachment is conducted fairly and that the following protocols are followed.
In the impeachment meeting, for which at least five (5) days of notice must be provided, the Executive Board members shall be given the opportunity to present evidence and discuss the option of impeachment. Then, in a secret ballot, a three-fourths (¾) majority of the Executive Board may remove the Chair or Vice Chair.
Section 670 Vacancies
If a member of the Executive Board resigns, is removed from office, or is otherwise incapable of serving, the State Chair shall have the power to fill or not fill the vacancy with any individual.
If the position of Chair is vacant, the Vice Chair assumes the position of Chair for the remainder of their term. If the Vice Chair is vacant, a special election, as specified in Section 790, shall be held to replace the Vice Chair. If the positions of Chair and Vice Chair are simultaneously vacant, the Chair of the High School Democrats of America shall be asked to appoint an interim Chair from the members of the Executive Board, who will serve until a special election can replace both positions. The interim Chair may not declare a candidacy in the following special election.
Section 680 Executive Board Meetings
Executive Board meetings shall be held weekly by the State Chair, who may also call special meetings for any reason. All Executive Board members must be notified of meetings at least two (2) days prior to the meeting, except under extraordinary circumstances. A quorum of one more than half (½+1) of the Executive Board members must be present for business to be conducted. Business recorded shall be taken at all meetings of the Executive Board and shall be accessible to all CAHSD members.
Section 680a Executive Board Meeting Attendance
If a CAHSD Executive Board member misses more than two (2) consecutive meetings without notification to the State Chair at least twenty-four (24) hours in advance for an excused absence, they will be immediately suspended from the state Executive Board. This Executive Board member can request to be reinstated to the Executive Board wherein the member’s status will be under the discretion of the State Chair.
Section 680b Executive Board Meeting Attendance Exemptions
A CAHSD Executive Board member is to be excused without consequence from Executive Board for the following reasons:
- Religious Holidays or Obligations
- Family or Pet Emergencies or Bereavement
- Medical Emergencies
- Immigration Status Crisis
- Community Emergencies
- Detention by Law Enforcement, not including the period after one has been formally charged with a criminal offense
Any other excused absence must be approved by the State Chair at least twenty-four (24) hours before a missed CAHSD Executive Board meeting.
If the State Chair is chronically absent, they may be subject to impeachment under Section 660.
Section 680c Executive Board Meeting Prohibitions
An Executive Board meeting cannot be held:
- Simultaneously with any CAHSD or HSDA-mandated conference, rally, or other event
- Less than two (2) hours after any mass shooting or similar scale terrorist attack
- During or directly after any immediately devastating natural disaster that directly affects Executive Board members such as an earthquake or wildfire
Section 680d Enactment
This amendment will take effect immediately upon passage. Formal censures may be approved retroactively, but no members will be suspended for past violations.
Section 690 Endorsements
The Executive Board shall hold the power to make endorsements on behalf of the California High School Democrats.
An endorsement shall be made for a candidate with a ⅔ affirmative vote of those present at an Executive Board meeting.
After candidates have advanced to the general election, the members of the Executive Board (including the Chair and Vice Chair) may submit offices for which endorsements shall be considered.
Before endorsements are voted on by the Executive Board, a minimum of one (1) week must pass in which the members of the California High School Democrats are, via e-mail:
- Notified about which offices are being endorsed; and
- Able to submit comments to be considered by the Executive Board when endorsing.
Article VII: Adult Advisory Board
Section 710 Role of the Adult Advisory Board
The Adult Advisory Board shall serve as a source of guidance and long-term structure for the California High School Democrats while maintaining the integrity of a student-run organization. It shall assist the Executive Board with the financial and legal obligations for maintaining CAHSD.
Section 720 Composition of the Adult Advisory Board
The Adult Advisory Board shall be made up of at least three (3) people.
Section 730 Selection of the Adult Advisory Board
All Adult Advisory Board members shall serve until they choose to resign their position or are removed by the Chair with the consent of the Executive Board. The Chair may appoint any adult to the Adult Advisory Board, with the consent of the Executive Board.
Article VIII: Election of Officers
Section 810 State Elections
The California High School Democrats shall hold a statewide election once a year, using the ranked choice voting system for all offices.
Section 820 Constituency
All members of this organization, as per their rights under Section 420(a), shall be eligible to receive a ballot.
Section 830 Election Committee
An election committee of three members, chaired by one graduating senior who has been a member of the California High School Democrats for no less than two (2) months, shall be established to oversee the statewide election. Members, including the chair, shall be appointed by the Chair of the California High School Democrats and confirmed with the consent of a majority of the Executive Board providing they meet the following requirements:
- The appointee has been a member of the organization for at least two (2) months
- The appointee is not seeking office in the upcoming state election and is not affiliated with the campaign of anyone seeking office in the upcoming state election
- The appointee has not been previously been impeached from a position in the organization
Section 840 Candidates
All members of the California High School Democrats shall be able to run for a position in the organization, granted that they are in full compliance with all bylaws and regulations that apply to candidacy, they meet all the requirements mentioned in this document, and that they fill out all required candidacy forms.
Section 850 Campaigning
Candidates shall start campaigning twenty-four (24) hours after the filing deadline. This includes any social media posts, website, distribution of campaign-related documents, contacts with local chapters or members for campaign-purposes or endorsements. The Election Committee shall have the right to consider other forms of campaigning that are not mentioned. Any candidate who starts campaigning before the filing deadline and the twenty-four (24) hour period shall face the discretion of the Election Committee.
Section 860 Ballots
Ballots shall be designed in such a manner that they are easily understandable, all text is legible, and that they are fair to all candidates. Each member shall be given only one ballot to fill out their order of preference for each office, and shall not be permitted to “write in” or otherwise select a candidate that is not listed on the ballot.
Section 865 Certification of the Vote
After all votes have been tallied, the Election Committee shall hear all appeals from candidates, and choose whether to investigate appeals, or to dismiss appeals based on the facts of the candidate’s appeal. All appeals having been heard, and all discrepancies, allegations, and irregularities investigated, the committee may unanimously decide to certify the results. Once certified, all results shall be final.
If the margin of victory is two (2) percent or less, all candidates shall be entitled to a recount, after which all results shall be final.
Section 870 Notice
The membership of the California High School Democrats shall be notified of the statewide election sixty (60) days before the election is scheduled to occur, and at this time shall be informed of all positions available and all steps necessary to become a candidate. Three (3) weeks prior to the election, all members must be notified of all candidates for each position and given a copy of their written statement. Voting instructions must also be included with this notification.
Section 880 Election Committee Discretion
The Election Committee, deeming it necessary and proper, shall reserve the right to add additional rules and regulations regarding the governance and administration of elections, but shall not reserve the right to bypass or remove any regulations listed in this document. The Election Committee shall also have the power to investigate any allegations of violation of electoral protocols, and with a unanimous ruling shall have the power to rescind a candidacy for such a violation.
Section 890 Special Elections
If there is a special election with conditions as outlined in Section 670, whomever is acting as the State Chair shall chair the Election Committee and appoint two (2) other members of the Executive Board who do not intend to run in the special election as members of the committee. In this election, members of the CAHSD shall receive at least seven (7) days notice of the filing deadline, and all members must be notified of all candidates for each position and given a copy of their written statement at least three (3) days before the election is scheduled to take place. Voting shall be open for seventy-two (72) hours, after which all procedures shall be governed by Section 760.
Article IX: Financial Responsibility and Processes
Section 910 Organization Status
California High School Democrats should continue to file as a General Committee with the FPPC and adhere to all campaign finance rules.
Section 920 Treasurer
California High School Democrats should retain an adult Treasurer under contract to fulfill financial services, and the contract should be signed by the Treasurer, one member of the Adult Advisory Board, and the Finance Director. Contract approval and dissolution requires a ⅔ majority of the Executive Board and approval of both the Chair and Vice Chair. The Treasurer will also join the Adult Advisory Board
Section 930 Expenditures
Expenditures directly from the CAHSD bank account requires written approval from either the Chair or Finance Director to the Treasurer. Requests for reimbursement should be directed through the Finance Director and require records of purchase.
Section 935 Expenditures, Continued
Expenditures of greater than $99 require the approval of the Chair, the Vice Chair, and the Finance Director OR a simple majority of the Executive Board and one of the above positions.
Section 940 Donations
We will accept donations of any amount from individuals or PACs unless an Executive Board member moves to return the donation. This requires a simple majority. Corporate donations of more than $75 will automatically result in a vote and a simple majority of the Executive Board can vote to reject it.
Section 950 Financial Misconduct
Financial misconduct will result in immediate expulsion; this will be determined by the AAB under the guidance of the Finance Director, Chair, and Vice Chair, unless one of these positions is under investigation. Pressed charges for theft of funds is a possible consequence based on the offense.
Article X: Amendments
Section 1010 Amendment Process
This document may be amended by the consent of the State Chair and the Vice Chair along with the simple majority vote of the Executive Board. Alternatively, this document may be amended with a two-thirds (⅔) majority vote of the Executive Board. Any member of the Executive Board may propose an amendment.
Section 1020 Referendum
This document may be amended by a referendum passed by a two-thirds majority of votes by CAHSD members, and shall be approved or denied by the State Chair. All referendums shall be overseen by the State Chair and Vice Chair, and all referendum options shall be granted the same rights as candidates, and shall be governed by all regulations under Article VIII.