30 Dec 2009
December 30, 2009

DNC Change Commission Adopts Report

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The DNC Change Commission held its final (hour-long) meeting this afternoon (by conference call).  The Commission approved a draft report that recommends converting most automatic unpledged “superdelegates” to pledged delegates who will fill slots reflecting the voter preferences in their state’s primary or caucuses – thus becoming automatic, pledged, voting convention delegates.  The DNC Rules and Bylaws Commission (RBC) will consider the Commission’s report and then forward proposed delegate selection rules to the DNC for action later in 2010.

Superdelegates:  The draft report proposes a new category of National Party Leader and Elected Officials (NPLEO) delegates who will serve as full voting delegates to the national convention.  The current proposal thus backs off from the prior proposal which would have made superdelegates non-voting delegates.  The current add-on unpledged delegate positions that were filled at state conventions would be eliminated.  Each state would receive a number of additional delegates (NPLEOs) that is equal to the number of its current automatic delegates – including all DNC members (elected, at large, state party chairs and vice chairs, and DNC officers), members of Congress, Governors, and Distinguished Former Party Leaders.  After the state has held its primary or caucus process and determined the percentage of delegates to be allocated to each presidential candidate, the NPLEOs, like the current At Large and PLEO delegates, would be allocated to those candidates.  Each NPLEO then woukld have the choice of pledging to a candidate or not pledging to any candidate and participating in the convention as a nonvoting delegate.

This proposal raises a few issues, which will likely be addressed by the RBC.

First, because the NPLEOs are counted in the complete state allocation, if the NPLEO opts out and goes to the convention as an unpledged non-voting delegate, an alternate must be selected to fill that seat.  Thus the position is more like the current elected pledged Party Leader and Elected Official (PLEO) position, than a superdelegate position (for which there were no alternates).  Currently there are elected alternates to the At Large and PLEO positions; the RBC will need to determine how alternates are to be chosen for the NPLEO positions.

Second, if more NPLEOs want to pledge to a candidate than there are pledged NPLEO candidate positions, how is that resolved?  E.g., a state has 10 NPLEO positions; presidential candidate A gets five NPLEO positions, but eight of the NPLEOs really favor candidate A. O nly five can go as candidate A delegates; the remaining three would either go as non-voting or pledge to a candidate who they do not actually support.  And how will the five who get to go as candidate A delegates be selected?

Third, currently presidential candidates have a right of approval for national convention delegates pledged to them.  This process will have to be applied in some way to the NPLEOs.

Fourth, what affect will the NPLEO change have on DNC diversity and equal division (gender) requirements?  Currently superdelegates are counted in these allocations, but if an NPLEO opts out, does his or her replacement have to share the same characteristics?  The unpledged add on positions had been used in the past to address diversity issues, but that is no longer an option – and should not be necessary. 

Calendar:  Under the Commission’s proposal numerous states (including Virginia) will have to move their primaries back to after March 1.   It will be easier to achieve date changes in 2012 if the RNC agrees to have a similar starting date.  Nevertheless, some states will be in a situation where there is a state mandated primary date which does not comply with the DNC’s schedule.  The RBC will reexamine the delegate selection rules which provide for sanctions and exceptions.

I will post a copy of the final Commission Report when it becomes available.

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