Posted by: iam0nly1 | April 21, 2008

The DNC Rules and the Case for MI and FL

There has been a lot of talk about “the rules” and how MI and FL should be punished and their voices not heard in this primary election cycle. That this myth has been allowed to be perpetuated without the truth, or even a different perspective, being heard, is a travesty of justice carried out by the mainstream media.

In an attempt to give the truth and the voters of MI and FL a voice, the public should be educated about “the rules,” who broke them, and the punishments, if any, that were levied.

First: What are the rules?

Ted Deutch, a Florida State Senator for the Democratic Party, and member of the Judiciary and Rules committees in the Florida legislature, explains (all emphasis mine):

Rule 11 clearly prohibits primaries or caucuses from being held prior to the first Tuesday in February, except in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina, each of which is assigned very specific limits on when they may hold their contests.

According to Rule 11, Iowa could hold its caucus no earlier than January 14, New Hampshire no earlier than January 22, and South Carolina no earlier than January 29.

Further, in accordance with Rule 20.C: “The number of pledged delegates elected … shall be reduced by 50 percent.”

Moreover, Wayne Barrett, an esteemed political journalist since 1979, reveals that before Rule 20.C or any rule stripping delegates can be enforced, the DNC, under its rules, is required to determine whether the Democrats in a noncompliant state made a “good faith” effort to abide by the party’s electoral calendar, and to only impose the full weight of penalties (i.e. nullifying the entire delegation), only if Democratic leaders in that state misbehaved.

In addition, the rules require the 30-member Rules and Bylaws Committee to conduct “an investigation, including hearings if necessary” in order to ascertain if Democratic leaders in a state in violation of Rule 11 “took all provable, positive steps and acted in good faith” to keep the state in compliance by either promoting legislation to avoid or preventing legislation that would cause a state to fail to comply to Rule 11.

Second: Who broke the rules?

It is well known by now that Florida violated Rule 11 and moved the primary up seven days previous to February 5, while Michigan moved their primary up 21 days early. The story we rarely hear is that Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina also violate Rule 11 by moving their caucuses/primaries up to January 3, January 8 and January 26 respectively.

It is clear that five states, Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Michigan and Florida all violated Rule 11.

Third: How were the rules applied?

Well, it would seem that the DNC failed to abide by their own rules. Remember the rules requiring that the Rules Committee do an investigation into how a state came to be in violation of Rule 11?

A DNC spokesman could not point to any real “investigation” the party conducted of the actions of “relevant Democratic party leaders or elected officials,” as the rules put it. All that happened with Florida, for example, was that two representatives of the state party made a pitch for leniency immediately before the Rules Committee voted for sanctions.

Wayne Barrett, in the rest of his article, eloquently enumerates how the Republicans in both Florida and Michigan were largely responsible for the resulting early primaries.

Further, the rules that were applied were clearly not applied fairly, and it would seem that Dean and others exercised powers they never possessed.

Back in June, a DNC spokeswoman, for example, told the Associated Press that neither Dean nor the Rules Committee “has the power to waive the rules for any state,” explaining that “these rules can be changed only by the full DNC.” Yet a few months later, on the same day that the Rules Committee stripped Michigan of its delegates, it waived the rules for New Hampshire, Iowa, and South Carolina, each of which had also moved up their primaries.

Why the unequal treatment? Exactly what did Florida and Michigan do that Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina not do? It would seem that the DNC has been pandering to Iowa and New Hampshire especially, attempting to assure that their archaic privilege of being first will be protected, even at the expense of the 4th and 8th largest states in the union, and possibly at the expense of the general election.

But here’s the crux of the issue – even if the DNC and Dean can supply any reason for the failure to apply the rules to Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina while stripping the entire Florida and Michigan delegations, there is nothing whatsoever in the rules that nullifies the popular vote totals in Florida and Michigan.

Deutch explains the rules of the DNC only have jurisdiction over the delegates, not the popular vote.

The rules do not say that the votes of Florida Democrats do not count. Indeed, the penalty established by the DNC’s own rules is based upon the results of the primary; therefore, the results of the primary must be valid.


The rules cannot tell a state or its voters whether the results of a legal election are valid; they only govern the selection of delegates to the national convention.

A record number of Florida Democrats, more than 1.7 million voters, went to the polls for the Jan. 29 Florida primary, and not one of them broke any rules by exercising his or her right to vote. But the DNC has said that they don’t count.

More analysis from Barrett:

The body count that the mainstream media has regurgitated out of Florida and Michigan is that 2.3 million Democrats voted in primaries that broke the rules, leaving the DNC with no choice but to level both villages, even if the collateral damage might include the party’s prospects of carrying those disenfranchised states in November. The DNC and the MSM appear to have simultaneously concluded that even Clinton’s 300,000-vote win in Florida, where both candidates competed on a level playing field, shouldn’t be counted in the popular vote tally, a calculation that appears nowhere in DNC rules and turns 1.7 million Democratic voters into ghosts.

If “the rules” are going to be unfairly and falsely applied, they should be applied consistently and should result in the stripping of 100% of the delegates and vote totals from Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina as well.

However, if we are to abide by the actual rules there are only a few options:

1) Strip 50% or 100% of the delegates from all five states and count the popular vote totals.

2) Do a proper investigation and discover what is already clear – the Republicans are the cause of the early primaries – and reinstitute Michigan and Florida’s delegates, and count their votes.

3) Have a revote in Michigan, or both Michigan and Florida.

A revote is clearly within the DNC rules, however it is completely unnecessary in the case of Florida where all names were on the ballot (however Senator Obama did air TV ads and hold a press conference in violation of the agreement to not campaign in the two states). Only in the case of Michigan does a revote seem remotely appropriate. Considering the absence of Senator Obama’s name from the Michigan ballot was a voluntary decision he made, largely in an attempt to pander to Iowa voters, he should be on board for a revote, sadly, he has done all he can to prevent a revote.

The popular vote totals in Florida and Michigan must be honored unless a revote is done. The DNC has no, nada, zip authority to discount the popular vote. That the media, the DNC and the Obama campaign have been complicit in this clear misrepresentation of the rules and blatant attempt to silence voters is reprehensible and wrong.

The clear message to the media, the DNC and the Obama campaign: Count All Our Votes!



  1. Are the DNC’s action/inactions legal? How in the world did this get glazed over?! And can the people of Florida and Michigan sue the DNC for violating their voting rights?

    These type of politics are right up Obama’s alley, so maybe the DNC deserves him.

    Let’s not forget, while Obama was running for the senate in Illinois, he had his lawyers find even the tiniest flaws to eliminate his opponents on the ticket. Of course he feels bad about it…now. Anyone who would abolish their opponents in that manner does not deserve to have their name on ANY ballot.

    The DNC/RBC really screwed this process and come November, we’ll see just how badly.

  2. Let’s face it. Hillary is toast. Let’s put the shoe on the other foot: if she couldn’t beat a first-term African-American senator for her party’s nomination, how can she have a chance in November?

    And if you think Obama supporters will vote for her, I’ve got some swampland in the Everglades I’ll be happy to sell you.

  3. This Democratic Primary process is seriously flawed, that is painfully clear don’t make us pay for these flaws by giving us a candidate that is not ready for the job that lies ahead. Superdelegates need to show true leadership and give us the candidate that can win the White House and can lead on day one.

    I am very ashamed of the Superdelegates that have given reasons for supporting Sen. Obama like we need to choose a nominee so we can move forward to the General Election.

    Hillary supporters will not fall in line we are life long Democrats that believe in our Country and what kind of experience it will take to lead. We will not be blackmailed into following with threats of Judge Appointments. If this party wants to see a democrat in the White House the Superdelegates need to step up and do the right thing for this Country and stop letting Sen. Obama buy your votes, or threaten you.

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