The Democratic National Committee Rules and Bylaws Committee met in Minneapolis on June 16 and Washington D.C. on July 28 to consider state delegate selection plans. It has now given 46 plans conditional approval, meaning the state party must provide certain clarifications and revisions, but the plans do not have major problems. We’ve been able to speed through these approvals because (1) the DNC provides model plans that are easy for states to adapt, (2) the excellent DNC Party Affairs and Delegate Selection (PADS) office staff works with states to improve their plans and highlight the issues for the full RBC to approve, (3) many state use state run primaries instead of party run caucuses and the processes are thus simpler; (4) there aren’t disputes among presidential campaigns.
The meeting did provide some robust discussion on ranked choice voting issues. Personally, I think that even if RCV may have a role in some elections, it doesn’t serve a useful purpose in a process that has no winner-take-all contests, but applies proportional representation with a 15% threshold. RBC members voiced some skepticism, but gave conditional approval to three states that used RCV in 2020 – Alaska and Hawaii may use RCV in their party run mail in primary, but must provide more information and clarifications of their process. Wyoming which used RCV in 2020 wants to have assembled caucuses with RCV to identify presidential preference in the middle of the meetings- it must provide more details as to how this would work. Maine is the only state with a state-run RCV primary. The statute provides for re-allocating votes until only two candidates remain – essential 2 candidate winner take all, which violates the DNC proportional representation rules. So Maine Democrats will use only earlier rounds to apportion if they use RCV at all. All four states will have their plans further considered at the next DNC RBC meeting (Sept. 14). The RBC did not approve North Dakota’s RCV plan because it had not done it before and the plan did not show financial or technical capacity to implement it. The Texas plan contained provisions for using RCV to fill vacancies in the Convention Delegation and Standing Committees, but Texas indicated it would remove those provisions. One remaining general RCV issue is when to apply the 15% threshold – at the first round so candidates who don’t meet it can’t be raised above 15% and get delegates, or after all the allocations?
As to early primary states, South Carolina, Nevada, and Michigan seem set. The DNC is still working with New Hampshire and we await Iowa’s decision on when its party run mail-in presidential preference primary will being and end. More on this in September.