The DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee is meeting today at the Capital Hilton in DC.  Here are the highlights, which I will update over the course of the afternoon.

Patrice Taylor set forth the calendar for now to 2012 (to be posted later).  The RBC will meet today and tomorrow and then on July 9-10, 2010 in DC to finalize the Convention Call, which will be approved at the DNC meeting in St. Louis on August 21, 2010.

DNC Co-Chair James Roosevelt reported that the RNC Committee on delegate selection had issued at least an initial report. The Committee’s proposed calendar tracks the DNC Change Commission recommendations – only IA, NH, SC, NV may have primaries/caucuses in February, others must be in March or later. To encourage early processes, in contests held before April, delegates will be awarded on proportional basis, not winner take all has been their usual procedure. (All Democratic contests are proportional, of course.)

The RBC then reviewed the proposed rules seriatum, and then approved or decided to discuss in more detail later.  [periodic updates to follow.]

UPDATE #1 :Clarified that votes taken today are “final,” but can still be amended between now and the final adoption of the whole set of rules.  (I will post draft rules ater today.)  The draft rules have the same structure as the 2008 rules.  Specific rules addressed below.

Rule 1 – Publication and Submission of State Party Rules – updated to reflect 2012 dates. 

  • Motion to strike the provision for temporary national rules, credentials, and platform committees.    Those committees have not used in recent cycles, so the RBC voted to delete these provisions.  The platform drafting committee which is appointed by the DNC Chair is not affected.  Motion accepted.
  • Further amended to add “and inclusion plans” to discussions of affirmative action plans.
  • Question re the provision that requires all steps to take place in 2012 – problem with early filing, early voting, and therefore many waivers granted.  No action taken, but will take a closer look at this issue depending on the ultimate calendar.  (2 pm, Rule adopted)

Rule 2 – Participation – processes to open to all Democrats.

  • Issue of secret ballot raised – and whether they can be used in party run primaries (i.e. firehouse primary or unassembled caucus) – issue can be clarified in the regulations to clarify allowance of secret ballot in these processes.
  • Question re section H.1 which promotes use of optical scan ballots – viewed as remaining the most secure/paper trial method.
  • Re caucus issues – rule still prohibit internet voting in caucuses (allow in state run primaries).  Change Commission generally discussed absentee ballots in caucuses, but no mandates – states may investigate and RBC staff to provide guidelines.  RBC will revisit this issue and address the concerns about limitations of participation in caucuses. 
    Suggested to amend sec G to allow internet voting in caucuses – staff will be preparing BP guidelines for all caucuses prior to July or August meetings.  Will revisit caucus participation issues, including absentee and internet voting, at that time.  Rule adopted.

Rule 3 – Scheduling of Delegate Selection Meetings – days, times, locations to encourage participation of voters in state processes.  Prohibition on participating in more than one state.
No changes from 2008; Rule adopted.

Rule 4 – Open Party – encourage participation, no discrimination, state parties must provide full information re process in a timely manner.  Rule adopted.

Rule 5 – Non-Discrimination – requires adoption of state outreach plans to achieve full participation by groups underrepresented in the party, in delegate selection  and at all levels of party affairs (not just delegate selection). 

  • Discussion re state party outreach efforts, some have specific rules.  DNC uses OFA and has other outreach efforts.  State delegate selection plans must include outreach provisions and they must be actually implemented.  Implementation challenges are the primary mechanism of enforcement. 
  • DNC RBC provides model plans, checklists, and DNC staff provides much technical assistance to state parties.
  • Rule adopted without change.

Rule 6 – Affirmative Action – State parties must adopt affirmative action plans setting forth positive steps to bring about a more inclusive delegate selection process.  Sets forth goals (not quotas) for participation from identified groups and requires equal division by gender at each level.  Also requires presidential candidates to engage in outreach.  RBC enforces the provisions.

  • Changed sec A.1 – goal to “achieve,” rather than “encourage,” full participation.
  • Terminology changed to Asian and Pacific Island Americans.
  • Change term “bilingually” re publications to “multilingually”
  • Sec 6.B – can’t challenge based just on delegation composition, but can challenge based on non-compliance with affirmative action plan. 
  • The Association of State Democratic Chairs, assisted by the Vice Chairs, will conduct outreach training in Spring 2011.
  • Section 6.E – prohibiting gerrymandering – intended to address at large voting schemes intended to dilute minority vote.  Consideration of broadening to include other groups, address locations of caucuses.
  • Regulations may address sources of data to be used in drafting outreach goals, and further define priority of consideration issues.
    Add inclusion obligation to presidential candidates affirmative action obligations.
  • Rule adopted.
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