Primary season is in full swing. The field of candidates is narrowing. Convention preparation is happening. How many of you know how delegates are selected to attend the summer Democrat and Republican conventions? I only “see” a few hands up 🙂 Who knows what a superdelegate is? Right. Let’s go over the process with a quick civics lesson. I’m not sure where common sense is in this complicated process, but here we go…
Both Democrats and Republicans have their own system of choosing delegates to attend their respective national conventions. Delegates can be selected in primary elections, caucuses, or by party leaders. Convention delegates may be the presidential candidates themselves. A person may be chosen as a delegate if they are the elected representatives in their counties, districts, states, or are party leaders.
In addition to the above, each state has its own system for choosing delegates. You can find out your state’s system of selecting delegates to the Democratic National convention by doing a search for _______ (name your state) Delegate Selection Plan. It varies widely state by state. Note the selection of superdelegates. These are delegates to the convention that have an automatic seat and can vote for whomever they wish.
The Republican Party in each state allows 3 delegates for each congressional district plus 6 at-large delegates. Alternate delegates may also be elected by constituents. A state may be able to send extra delegates if specific qualifications are met. The primary ballot may say who a particular delegate is pledged to support. You know who that delegate will support at the convention. The pledge is not legally binding. Sometimes, a delegate says they will support a particular candidate and may change their mind at the time of nominating their party’s presidential candidate.
A pledged delegate is one who supports a candidate in the primary and promises their vote to that candidate at their national convention.
American territories also send delegates to the national conventions, as does Washington, D.C.
On the first round of voting for a presidential candidate to represent their party, if there is no clear choice by a majority, the convention becomes open. Delegates in many (but not all) states are then free to vote for whomever they choose.
I would encourage you to see how your delegates are chosen in your state. Like I said earlier, it’s complicated. The mayors of Milwaukee and Charlotte will give their welcome speeches at the conventions this summer. Then let the fun begin.
This is Common Sense Civics and Citizenship. ??