When the polls close Tuesday night, many in Texas know their work has just begun.
That's when the reddest of the red and bluest of the blue are gearing up for another battle: precinct conventions.
These gatherings are where Texans work to become delegates to the state convention, where they can help craft the groundwork for the future of their party.
"I'm sure that most voters do not know about the precinct conventions," said Matthew Eshbaugh-Soha, who heads the political science department at the University of North Texas. "Certainly, the more knowledgeable of the party faithful would be aware, but we are lucky to see [most] people turn out to vote."
Republicans will head to their convention after voting ends on election night; Democrats will have their gatherings on March 24.
The resolutions that come out of those gatherings can become part of the party platform, and the delegates chosen there will on to the next round of conventions.
"This is critical," said Deborah Peoples, who heads the Tarrant County Democratic Party. "If you want to have a voice in how this country is going, you need to come to the conventions."
The gatherings help send a message about party priorities to officials, candidates and Texas voters in general, Tarrant County Republican Party Chairman Tim O'Hare said.
"It's a way to identify what is important to the base of the party," he said.
Every other year
Local and state conventions are held every two years; national conventions are held every four years for presidential elections.
Party members start at precinct conventions and choose delegates to move on to the senate district conventions. Ideas that might be added to the party platform are submitted along the way.
"The first thing to do is vote in your party's primary," Esbaugh-Soha said. "You can only vote in one party's primary and can only participate in that party's activities. In the state of Texas, you are considered to be a member of that party until the clock strikes midnight on the new year."
It's a generally quiet process locally, except for in 2008, when more than 20,000 Democrats showed up at local conventions to weigh in on the primary battle between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.
Such large crowds hadn't been seen before or since.
That year, the large Democratic crowds were due to a "two-step" system that has since been scrapped. That process let voters cast ballots and then participate in a caucus system.
As a result, Clinton won the popular vote but Obama won more votes through the caucuses.
GOP precinct conventions will begin shortly after the polls close Tuesday night at the same precincts where ballots are cast.
Delegates chosen will take the ideas developed at the precinct convention to senatorial conventions, scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. March 24.
"The purpose is to fire up the base and establish a platform under which we wish election officials would address themselves," O'Hare said.
Senate District 9 participants meet at North Richland Hills Baptist Church, 6955 Boulevard 26. Senate District 10 delegates meet at the Sheraton Hotel, 1701 Commerce St. in Fort Worth. Senate District 12 participants meet at First Baptist Church, 301 E. Texas St. in Grapevine. And Senate District 22 delegates meet at Hampton Inn & Suites Arlington South, Palmetto Room, at 1100 E. Interstate 20.
Delegates chosen there move on to the state convention scheduled for June 14-16 in San Antonio.
"In Texas, everything is bigger," O'Hare said. "We have the biggest state fair, the biggest football stadiums and the biggest Republican convention."
For more information, call party headquarters at 817-595-0303.
For years, Democrats also headed to their precinct conventions after polls closed on election day.
But the party in recent years decided not to ask voters to go to their polling sites twice on election day and instead moved precinct conventions to a date right before senatorial conventions are held.
"People thought it was too confusing," Peoples said. "We were trying to get more voter participation."
This year, Democratic precinct conventions will be at 9 a.m. March 24 at the Tarrant County College South Campus, 5301 Campus Drive in Fort Worth.
One glitch this year is that many of those planning to attend may also want to participate in the local March For Our Lives, which is geared to shine a spotlight on gun violence and school safety. The local march, part of a national movement, is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. March 24 at the Tarrant County Courthouse, 100 Weatherford St.
Officials say they couldn't change the time or date of the convention, but they encourage potential delegates to register for the convention and then go to the march.
"Then they can come [back] and catch up with the county convention," Peoples said.
Delegates chosen there will move on to the state convention June 21-23 in Fort Worth.
For more information, call party headquarters at 817-335-8683.
Libertarians also are holding conventions and stress that anyone who wants to participate in one should not vote in the Democratic or Republican primary elections. And they should not sign any petitions to put other candidates on the ballot.
Those wanting to attend the precinct convention should show up at 7 p.m. March 13 at the LP Tarrant Office, 5751 Kroger Drive in Fort Worth.
There, delegates will be chosen for the county convention and can move on to the state convention April 13-15 at the Hilton Houston Westchase in Houston. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.