Tag Archives: Unity and Reform Commision

2020 Democratic Convention — Unity and Reform Commission — Part 2

One of the issues in the last several primary cycles — for both parties — have been the role of unpledged delegates.  There are several reasons why both parties designate certain party officials (and on the Democratic side, elected officials) as automatic delegates.  First, it removes these individuals from the competition for the “regular” delegate slots making it easier for grassroots activists to compete for a delegate slot.   Second, these individuals have a slightly different perspective than the voters.  While everyone wants the party to win the White House, state party officials are also responsible for winning as many down ballot races as possible.  Elected officials want to win their own races.  As such, in theory, if the leading candidate seems too extreme or flawed, the unpledged delegates could swing the nomination to the second-placed candidate.   Before 2016, the Republicans decided to bind their automatic delegates based on primary results in their state.  After 2016, some Republicans might regret that their automatic delegates no longer had that power given the continuing fiasco that is Donald Trump.  However, in neither party, the automatic delegates have ultimately supported the candidate that won the most delegates; so this theoretical power has never been used.

Even though this power has never been used to change the result, many Democrats have wanted to reduce the power of the automatic delegates.  The resolution that created the Unity and Reform Commission mandated that, while elected officials (Senators, Representatives, Governors) and distinguished party leaders (e.g., former presidents, former DNC chairs, former speakers/caucus leaders) would remain unpledged, DNC members would be pledged in accordance with the primary results.  The task for the Unity and Reform Commission was to make recommendations as to how to handle this process.  First, the recommendations distinguish between DNC members who represent the states (state party chairs and the DNC members elected by the state parties) and other DNC members (at-large members and those who represent groups of elected officials).  The “state” members will be bound based on the state results; and the “national” DNC members will be bound based on the national results.

On the issue of exactly how to bind these automatic delegates, the Commission did not reach a final recommendation but, instead, suggested two alternatives.   The first would just pool the delegate votes with no individual votes on the first ballot.  The second would create a mechanism for assigning the automatic delegates to specific candidates based on the delegates personal wishes with some random mechanism if the personal preferences do not line up with the required allocation.   Unlike regular delegates, however, the automatic delegates would be absolutely bound to these allocations. Continue Reading...

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