Sunday, January 27, 2008

How would the Florida and Michigan delegates actually be seated?

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With all the controversy surrounding the seating of the Florida and Michigan delegations at the Democratic Convention, it's worth taking a look at how the process would actually work.

First, what rule did Florida and Michigan break? Section 11A of the Delegate Selection Rules of the 2008 Democratic National Convention:

No meetings, caucuses, conventions or primaries which constitute the first determining stage in the presidential nomination process (the date of the primary in primary states, and the date of the first tier caucus in caucus states) may be held prior to the first Tuesday in February or after the second Tuesday in June in the calendar year of the national convention. [Except for Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina].
On Aug 26, 2007, the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee stripped Florida (and later Michigan), of all its delegates:
Donna Brazile, a member of the rules committee who argued for a swift and harsh punishment for Florida, said states' desire to be more relevant in the nominating process does not excuse violations of rules intended to make the system fair for everyone.

"I understand how states crave to be first. I understand that they're envious of the role that Iowa and New Hampshiree have traditionally played," said Brazile, who was Al Gore's campaign manager in 2000. "The truth is, we had a process. . . . We're going to back these rules.
Now the Call for the 2008 Democratic National Convention ("the Call") states in section II-(B):
Only delegates and alternates selected under a delegate selection procedure approved by the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee and in accordance with the rules shall be placed on the Temporary Roll of the 2008 Democratic National Convention.
So Michigan and Florida will not be placed on the Temporary Roll. And then it's in the hands of the 2008 Democratic Convention Credentials Committee. From The Call, section VII-(J)(1,2,3):
The Credentials Committee shall determine and resolve questions concerning the seating of delegates and alternates to the Convention pursuant to the resolution entitled the “Relationship Between the 2008 Rules of Procedure of the Credentials Committee and the 2008 Delegate Selection Rules,” which includes the “Rules of Procedure of the Credentials Committee of the 2008 Democratic National Convention” hereby approved and adopted by the Democratic National Committee, and set forth in full in the Appendix to this Call. The committee shall report to the Convention for final determination and resolution of all such questions.

Challenges to the seating of any delegate or alternate shall be in accordance with the Rules of Procedure of the Credentials Committee. Any challenge to the seating of a delegate or alternate that is not made in conformity with these rules shall be deemed waived.

Upon the request of members representing twenty percent (20%) of the total votes of the Credentials Committee, a minority report shall be prepared for distribution to the Convention delegates and alternates as part of the committee’s report.
And here's where we diverge if the seating is contested or not. If it's not contested, someone will challenge the non-seating of the delegates, the Credentials Committee will likely unanimously approve the challenge, the Committee will recommend in its main report that the delegates should be seated, the convention will approve the seating, and the Michigan and Florida delegates will march onto the floor with great ceremony.

But if the seating is contested, a Minority Report will be issued by the Credentials Committee.

And then we get to the convention. The report of the Credentials Committee is the very first piece of real business to occur at the convention. The Call, VIII-(C)(1)(a,b):
a. The Temporary Chair shall recognize the Chair of the Credentials Committee for up to thirty (30) minutes to present the committee’s report unless a longer period of time shall be provided in a special order of business agreed upon by the Convention. The Chair of the committee may present committee amendments, yield part of his or her time to others and may yield for the presentation and disposition of minority reports without losing the right to the floor.

b. The Temporary Chair shall arrange for the orderly presentation of amendments and of minority reports offered at the direction of the committee. Twenty (20) minutes shall be allowed for the presentation of each committee amendment or minority report unless a longer period for any committee amendment or minority report is provided in special orders of business agreed to by the Convention. Time shall be allotted equally to proponents and opponents of each committee amendment or minority report. The questions shall be put on each committee
amendment or minority report immediately following its presentation without intervening motion.
And we have a vote, state-by-state, the first meaningful state-by-state roll call at a Democratic Convention since 1980. Clinton would need a majority of the delegates (not including Florida and Michigan) to approve the Minority Report.

And then reality strikes. If Clinton can get a majority of delegates to support the Minority Report, than she has a majority of the delegates supporting her anyway, and she doesn't need Michigan and Florida.

But if she doesn't have a majority of the delegates supporting her, its hard to see why delegates supporting other candidates would vote to seat the two delegations, essentially helping her out. After fighting for the nomination for 2 years, why would Obama or Edwards and their delegates give up the fight in this way. It's just not going to happen. The delegations will NOT be seated if the nomination is contested.


Anonymous said...

i have a stupid can you challenge a set of delegates if florida and michigan dont have any delegates to begin with?

Matt said...

Not a stupid question. Florida and Michigan do/will have delegates. The state parties are going through their process as if they have their full set of delegates. Those are the delegates they will try to get seated.

Anonymous said...

Looks to me like the Clintons have this election all won...what a fraud and a shame the average american does not know how this all works. Sad..

Anonymous said...

How can you possibly say that this in some way, shape, or form, benefits Clinton? The fact is that Obama would have been hard pressed to do well at all in Michigan (a heavy labor state) and Florida (a heavy middle-late aged white female state). The fact is that by the DNC not seating Michigan and Florida, it has allowed Obama to carry more momentum into Super Tuesday because the two states that Clinton most likely would have done well in were not and will nto be counted. P.S Go Obama!

Anonymous said...

but if the dnc doesnt recognize their process, and they are not included in the call to the convention, doesnt it make their exercise a moot issue?

Anonymous said...

But what about Edwards' delegates? If it turns out to be a contest between Obama and Clinton then they make all the difference.

Anonymous said...

This is aggravating and ridiculous, no matter which Democratic candidate you are for. Fundamentally, the Michigan and Florida primaries demonstrate a severe flaw in the primary process, not just in dates but in how delegates are handled. This flaw makes the process undemocratic. We must consider NOW this scenario: Obama and Clinton are neck and neck going into the primary, no one contests the Michigan and Florida primaries at Roll Call, the Minority Report doesn't happen, and Clinton wins the Democratic nomination by a procedural legerdemain whereby she unfairly receives all of the delegates from these two f#ckups of primaries, especially from Michigan, where we have to face the fact that she was functionally the only one on the ballot! All this play action in the red zone: on the eve of the clearest potential Democratic landslide in a national election. Why, why, why? The DNC must answer this question now: who gets the uncommitted votes from Michigan's primary, which supposedly didn't matter but apparently will? Michigan and Florida's delegates must not be seated, period. The DNC needs to uphold its ruling, or else face the spector of being haunted for generations as the a self-cannabilizing politoco machine. C'mon, guys. Get it together.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this excellent explanation.

I just want to say that I hope that the delegates are not seated. My heart goes out to the people of Michigan and Florida but they need to realize that it is their own state that messed up. The ruling has already been made... the DNC changing it's mind in the final hour would undermine the conviction of democrats everywhere and our opponents use spats like these against us all to often.

DNC, don't fuel the fire!

Anonymous said...

If delegates aren't seated, there will also certainly be challenges in the courts, so this is far from over. Either way, my thought is that they will both end up in the White House next year. It's just a matter of who will be president and vice president. Either would be foolish to pass on an unprecedented and virtually assured be the first woman and first African-American to be president and vice president of the US...representatives of a sex and race that at one time couldn't even vote!

January 20, 2009. The end of an error!

Carrie said...

Thanks for the "heart goes out" comment. Michigan is really struggling with the highest unemployment rate in the country. I drove through my Ford headquarters middle class neighborhood the other day and within 5 blocks, on one side of the street, saw 4 foreclosures and 5 for sale signs. We can use all the heart we can get. Compassion would be a refreshing side dish to the promises of unity. I'd even take compassion in the place of an attempt to bring Michigan and Florida into the process in some limited capacity, but the tenor out of the Obama camp has been very harsh (very Bush-like...wrath upon those who dare to disagree...feels pretty bizarre). At the very least, even if a punitive approach seems most appropriate, the message could be delivered with a conciliatory nod to the fact that the Michigan move was one made out of desperation. Remember that there was a lot of talk in the media that if Obama won New Hampshire he could clinch the nomination. Michigan might have been naughty, but nonethe less right about the problems in the process. Doesn't it count to be right from the outset of a dispute?

Anonymous said...

My question is, do the superdelegates get to vote on the credentials issue? I think that throws a wrench into your analysis if they do. Clinton could come in without majority support from all delegates, but the superdelegates who aren't committed to either campaign might decide this issue in her favor. It would also give superdelegates a "back door" way to vote for her without the backlash of supporting someone who didn't win the popular vote. They just vote to credential the Florida / Michigan delegates, guaranteeing she wins, and then vote for Obama.

Matt said...

All delegates get to vote on Credentials issues. All sorts of scenarios are possible if the delegate count is close, but if Clinton doesn't turn it around soon this thing will be over in a month.

njrtrapper said...

Is the magic number of delegates needed to obtain the nomination, 2025, include Michigan and Florida, or is the number less by not counting those two states?

njrtrapper said...

Does the delegate count to secure the Democratic nomination include or exclude the Michigan and Florida delegate numbers? Is the 2025 inclusive of the 366 delegates allocated to Florida and Michigan or does that 2025 number exclude those delegates?

Matt said...

2025 does not include Fl & MI. With Fl and MI, the number to win is 2207. See the trackers in the left siedebar to see the count both ways.

Texasdrew said...

Umm....forgive me but I thought we live in a democracy? Defined as a government by the people. This is not defined as government by the people, except for Florida and Michigan. Yes they broke the rules, but excluding the vote of their delegates and their people undermines the whole democratic process laid out by our fore fathers.

Lin (Kalamazoo) said...

As a Michigan resident I pray the Democratic Party holds true to its rules and does not allow the delegates from Michigan or Florida to be seated or to be allowed to "a do over." Shame on Governor Granholm and the elected officials of my home state. First, they not only KNEW the rules they VOTED and APPROVED the rules 1-1/2 years prior to the primary they decided to hold that was in direct violation of the rules! Since when do you have a contest and allow someone to break the rules! As far as Granholm whining about the voters of Michigan being able to have a voice. Well Granholm YOU stripped all of us of our voice when you ALLOWED the primary to be held early. As we teach our children, you ARE responsible for your actions and YOUR actions do have consequences! Let me state that I am not a registered Republican nor Democrat. I will vote in every vote based on the issues and based on who I believe to be the best person for the job, regardless of their party, gender, national or religion! I choose not to vote in a Primary Election that was not held in accordance with the rules. But, even if I had voted in the Michigan Primary farce, what options were put in front of me? Vote for McCain, who's views on the war quite frankly scare me to death, vote for Hillary a canidate who agreed not to participate in the primary if it was held early, but her name was on the ballot. Who I might also add seems to be on nothing more than a power trip. But would I of had the opportunity to vote for Obama? NO because his name wasn't even on the ballot. Of course Hillary wants the votes in Michigan to count. She is behind and the Michigan voters COULDN'T vote for her opponent even if they choose to. How fair is that Hillary? Democratic Party please hold true and strip Michigan and Florida from their delegates. Hold those officials in both states accountable for the residents in those states to not have a vote.

Karoli said...

The credentials committee has three chairs, and 25 appointed members. The remaining members are allocated according to states won in the primaries -- I've uploaded the official chart to my website here. From that you can figure out whether or not Hillary will have enough representation to make a challenge in the credentials committee. (I don't think so without some sort of rule change)

Matt said...

Karoli- she only needs 20% to have a Minority Report brought to the full convention, so I don't think the makeup of the Credentials Committee will be that critical to how this turns out.

Betta Daze said...

1) How can the DNC go back on it's own rules,and expect respect and adherance to rules in the future? 2) How can the DNC go back on it's own rules,to placate a candidate who already is suspect/considered to be an "insider" to the party?
3) How can the DNC even THINK of rewarding a candidate who cheated broke the rules, for her own gain after agreeing/signing a pledge?
4)How can the DNC believe her concern about Mi./Fla. being seated, when her "concern" showed up only when she was losing-- after she had said "those states just won't count", last fall? 5)Where is the DNC'S BACKBONE?