Posted by: iam0nly1 | April 24, 2008

“The Rules”: Seat the Delegates

Why is the DNC selectively disenfranchising voters?

Don’t let the media pundits fool you, nowhere in the DNC rule book does it say that Florida and Michigan lose all their delegates for holding their primaries early. The rule book sets out rules for when states can hold their primaries, but the penalty for breaking those rules is that states found in violation lose half of their delegates, not all of them. The decision to strip Florida and Michigan of their delegates was completely arbitrary.

Here are the rules straight from the DNC Delegate Selection Rules:

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. Provided, however, that the Iowa precinct caucuses may be held no earlier than 22 days before the first Tuesday in February; that the Nevada first-tier caucuses may be held no earlier than 17 days before the first Tuesday in February; that the New Hampshire primary may be held no earlier than 14 days before the first Tuesday in February; and that the South Carolina primary may be held no earlier than 7 days before the first Tuesday in February. In no instance may a state which scheduled delegate selection procedures on or between the first Tuesday in February and the second Tuesday in June 1984 move out of compliance with the provisions of this rule.

Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina did not follow this rule and should all have been subjected to the penalty described below:

Violation of timing: In the event the Delegate Selection Plan of a state party provides or permits a meeting, caucus, convention or primary which constitutes the first determining stage in the presidential nominating process to be held prior to or after the dates for the state as provided in Rule 11 of these rules, or in the event a state holds such a meeting, caucus, convention or primary prior to or after such dates, the number of pledged delegates elected in each category allocated to the state pursuant to the Call for the National Convention shall be reduced by fifty (50%) percent, and the number of alternates shall also be reduced by fifty (50%) percent. In addition, none of the members of the Democratic National Committee and no other unpledged delegate allocated pursuant to Rule 8.A. from that state shall be permitted to vote as members of the state’s delegation. In determining the actual number of delegates or alternates by which the state’s delegation is to be reduced, any fraction below .5 shall be rounded down to the nearest whole number, and any fraction of .5 or greater shall be rounded up to the next nearest whole number.

A few things to note here:

1) Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina broke and are subject to the same rules and Michigan and Florida.

2) The delegations should only be reduced by 50%, not stripped entirely. 

3) There is nothing in the rules dictating a state not be recognized or counted at all.
Under the DNC rules, the Florida and Michigan primaries clearly count, and they are entitled to have 50% of their delegates seated at the convention as allocated by their state primaries. However, given that Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina were not penalized at all, the equitable options are to strip 50% of Iowa’s, New Hampshire’s and South Carolina’s delegates, or Florida and Michigan should not lose any, just as the other three states were not penalized. It’s not only fair and just, it’s simply following the rules.

But here’s the part of the rules we have heard nothing about, and something that might make the Obama campaign end their love affair with “the rules.”

A presidential candidate who campaigns in a state where the state party is in violation of the timing provisions of these rules, or where a primary or caucus is set by a state’s government on a date that violates the timing provisions of these rules, may not receive pledged delegates or delegate votes from that state. Candidates may, however, campaign in such a state after the primary or caucus that violates these rules. “Campaigning” for purposes of this section includes, but is not limited to, purchasing print, internet, or electronic advertising that reaches a significant percentage of the voters in the aforementioned state; hiring campaign workers; opening an office; making public appearances; holding news conferences; coordinating volunteer activities; sending mail, other than fundraising requests that are also sent to potential donors in other states; using paid or volunteer phoners or automated calls to contact voters; sending emails or establishing a website specific to that state; holding events to which Democratic voters are invited; attending events sponsored by state or local Democratic organizations; or paying for campaign materials to be used in such a state.

Senator Obama was clearly in violation of these rules when he held a press conference in Tampa and aired TV ads that reached Florida voters. The rules of the DNC clearly state that any presidential candidate who campaigns in a state that is in violation of Rule 11, shall not receive any pledged delegates from that state. He signed a pledge promising not to campaign in the state, and he clearly broke those rules. 

In short, rules are rules and the DNC and the Obama campaign should adhere to them. Seat at least 50% of the Florida (none of which can be allotted to Senator Obama) and Michigan delegations, or strip all the delegates from Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. And lastly: COUNT ALL OUR VOTES!


This post comes in large part due to the contribution of Portia9. 


  1. You are correct that the rules committee is only required to strip 50% of the delegates, but the way I interpret that, they are within their rights to strip 100%. The rules state that the state(s) in violation must lose 50%, so your plea to seat “at least” 50% should be amended to “seat 50%”. Stating that other states broke the rules does not absolve Florida from knowingly breaking the rules. Furthermore, other states started moving their primaries in response to FL and MI moving theirs up, because they wanted to keep the same pecking order and they were afraid that even though FL and MI were warned, that they wouldn’t be punished. And until we actually get to the convention, we won’t know if they really will be punished or not.

    Also, your statements about Obama’s “press conference” in FL were misleading…it was perfectly within the rules, as you quote them yourself, for Obama and Hillary to engage in fundraising in FL, which is what Obama was doing. Furthermore, he didn’t schedule a press conference, he was jumped by a reporter on the way to his car, and he actually said something. That’s not a press conference.

    If FL and MI are allowed to get away with breaking rules, even though they were warned, then all hell will break lose in the next election. Why should any state respect the first Tuesday in February? Furthermore, it is the fault of the FL and MI leadership that their constituents were “disenfranchised”, because they knew exactly what could happen. And the poor citizens of MI and FL had no idea whether their votes would count or not when they voted, so certainly some of them didn’t bother as a result. Again, the fault of the leadership of the states. If they had left their primary dates on Feb. 5th instead of trying to garner extra influence, then this would not have happened.

  2. Both states were warned as far as far back as at least May 2007 than if they didn’t change the date of the primary to comply with the DNC rules, they would be penalized, which potentially included their delegates not being seated.

    No one gave a shit about being disenfranchised in the months leading up to those primaries. Were Florida and Michigan residents angry in the months leading up to those primaries knowing what the outcome could be? No one cared until the Clinton campaign started to flounder and she “needed” those votes and the word disenfranchisement started popping up everywhere.

    The DNC asked the candidates to remove their names from the ballot in Michigan, and Edwards and Obama complied. You can’t hand Clinton all the delegates because she didn’t follow the rules. The primaries can’t count as is because none of the candidates campaigned in those states, and 2 of the candidates weren’t on the ballot. For all we know, Edwards could still be in the race if those states had followed the rules.

    If they bend the rules for Michigan and Florida, other states will start hosting the primaries earlier and earlier and try to strong arm the DNC because “you let MI and FL get away with it.”

  3. WOW, this should be in the MSM

  4. Any change from the rules agreed to by Hillary etal is cheating and represents exactly what she’s knon for. The Dem party needs to live by the rules they made..and all agreed to. I’ll change my Democrat status if this fiasco breaks the rules that were made.

  5. […] proposal is within the rules, it would still represent an unfair enforcement of the rules in light of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina.  Further, the late date, roughly a few days before the last primary is held, could represent a […]

  6. Very well done. The issue is well put together and the MSM should pick up on this, but it will not.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: