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DNC Unity Reform Commission Recommends Slashing Number of Superdelegates

by Countable | 12.14.17

What’s the story?

Since Hubert Humphrey was nominated to the Democratic presidential ticket at the 1968 party convention, despite never having run in a single primary, the Democratic party has had superdelegates. Superdelegates, or "unpledged" delegates, can vote however they choose, separately from the pledged state delegates who have to reflect the will of primary or caucus voters.

On Saturday the Unity Reform Commission (URC), created by the Democratic National Committee (DNC), announced a recommendation that superdelegates be slashed by 60 percent starting with the 2020 presidential primary.

What is a superdelegate?

Superdelegates, technically called "unpledged" delegates, are party leaders, fundraisers and lobbyists. They are theoretically set-up as a counterbalance to grassroots activist candidates, allowing for stability and continuity in party direction, and preventing the election of unelectable, or single-issue, candidates.

Superdelegates can vote however they choose, regardless of the will of voters in their state. They also only vote at the annual convention, so can switch their vote at any time up until that point, unlike state, or pledged, delegates, that must vote according to their primary or caucus results.

The publication of some superdelegate’s endorsements of Hillary Clinton prior to the party convention in 2016 prompted Bernie Sanders and others in the progressive wing of the party to call for the elimination of superdelegates, as well as other party reforms.

The URC, combining Clinton and Sanders’ supporters, was created to address those concerns and make recommendations.

In the month leading up to the the URC's announcement, the movement to eliminate superdelegates picked up steam. Tulsi Gabbard, who left DNC leadership to support Sanders during the presidential primary, circulated a new petition called on the elimination of superdelegates. Then Senator Tim Kaine (VA), former party chairman and vice-presidential running mate of Hillary Clinton, was reported by Politico to have also called for the elimination of superdelegates, calling the practice undemocratic.

"I have long believed there should be no superdelegates. These positions are given undue influence in the popular nominating contest and make the process less democratic."

The recommendation of the URC, reported by NPR and the Washington Post, is to leave Democratic lawmakers, governors and distinguished party leaders" as unpledged, but require all other DNC members to vote in accordance with the majority of voters in their state. This would reduce the ranks of unpledged delegates by nearly 60 percent.

The recommendations of the Commission won’t be adopted until they are voted on by the DNC’s bylaws committee, and then by the entire DNC.

What do you think?

Do you think the DNC should completely eliminate superdelegates, or obligate them to vote consistent with their state primaries and caucuses? Why or why not?

Tell us in the comments what you think, then use the Take Action button to tell your reps!

— Asha Sanaker

(Photo Credit: Disney/ABC Television via Flickr / Creative Commons)

Countable

Written by Countable

Leave a comment
(74)
  • Dave.Land
    12/14/2017
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    The correct number of superdelegates is zero. Let us have a party that lives up to its name.

    Like (46)
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  • Brenda
    12/14/2017
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    I think they should all be eliminated.

    Like (30)
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  • TinyBA13
    12/14/2017
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    I support the URCs proposal to significantly reduce the number of superdelegates. Votes should reflect the will of the voters.

    Like (21)
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  • Brian
    12/14/2017
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    Don’t slash the numbers of superdelegates, eliminate them entirely. Let’s put democracy back into the Democratic Party.

    Like (19)
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  • Laura
    12/14/2017
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    Reducing or eliminating super delegates is a fair, sound action.

    Like (14)
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  • Rebecca
    12/14/2017
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    Slash the number to zero! Since we Dems are the ones who stand for voting rights, and we can't stop complaining when the electoral college chooses our president against the grain of the popular vote; we also need to be the ones to eliminate this very similar process from our own party politics. Let the R's be the hypocrites. Let us truly show that we hear the voice of the people.

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  • Edward.Hambrick
    12/14/2017
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    Get rid of this super rigged system. It eliminates the voter completely.

    Like (12)
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  • andrewwilliams
    12/14/2017
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    The Democrats would be very smart to do this. In fact, why don’t they just eliminate these “super” delegates once and for all.

    Like (11)
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  • Robert
    12/14/2017
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    The superdelegate concept is similar to the Founding Father’s concept of the Electoral College. It is intended to keep the institution (party or country) constant and consistent. The Concept failed miserably in our last election. Both superdelegates and the Electoral College have to be revised so that they reflect the will of the people within the state.

    Like (7)
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  • Jordan
    12/14/2017
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    This absolutely needs to be done. Party establishment types shouldn’t have all the power in choosing our nominee, the voters should. What’s worse, here in Washington State, Bernie Sanders won the statewide caucus, yet the superdelegates voted for Hillary. That is NOT RIGHT!

    Like (6)
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  • Cluz1babe
    12/14/2017
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    Also, get rid of the electoral college.

    Like (6)
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  • I.Got.an.Idea...
    12/15/2017
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    Yes, remove Superdelegates. Also, remove any Policy or practice that is considered unethical. This would apply to all parties and all Government and all of Society.

    Like (5)
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  • Jessica
    12/14/2017
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    I believe we should eliminate superdelegates completely. They are, by definition, undemocratic. Not even the Republican Party has such a system. Democratic Party needs more democracy.

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  • Leon
    12/14/2017
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    The Dems should adopt the primary method - it’s obvious that superdelegates are selecting candidates that don’t represent their party majority.

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  • Jeanne
    12/14/2017
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    Get rid of them! I also think the electoral vote is no longer effective.

    Like (4)
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  • RadicalModerate
    12/16/2017
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    Hillary ruined everything. What a selfish person. If the DNC hadn’t rigged the primary then sanders would have beat Trump. Why don’t we talk about that. Really was it so important to “stand with her”, That we allowed the trailer park vote to go to Trump. Hey DEMOCRATS, kick your big pharma campaign money habit. Start talking about legalizing weed. Make America healthy again. Single payer? Doing the work of the people WILL get you votes, bate and switch tactics obviously did not.

    Like (3)
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  • Hillary
    12/15/2017
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    There should be ZERO superdelegates. When will we finally get it across on every level that one person gets one vote? Superdelegates are positioned to decide for themselves what we get instead of representing what the voters demanded.

    Like (3)
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  • Joe
    12/14/2017
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    We need to get rid of superdelegates all together or at least hold them back from publishing their votes till after all the popular votes are cast.

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  • Roger
    12/14/2017
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    Hi the DNC should eliminate superdelegates altogether, that one superdelegate has more weight one vote than a regular delegate has with his/her vote for the voters they represent. Very very unfair! Roger

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  • SneakyPete
    12/16/2017
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    I strongly agree that the DNC should completely eliminate superdelegates, or obligate them to vote consistent with their state primaries and caucuses. WHY should the DNC initiate such a drastic action as this. A number of reasons brings this to the attention of the Democratic Leadership following the 2016 Presidential election debacle created by how Hillary Clinton manipulated the SuperDelegates to her advantage and against Senator Sanders prior to the election. Hillary Clinton had at only one thing to be thankful for in the 2016 Democratic Presidential Democratic Primary : Superdelegates. "That was her only true firewall," Superdelegates, or "unpledged" delegates, can vote however they choose, separately from the pledged state delegates who have to reflect the will of primary or caucus voters. On Saturday the Unity Reform Commission (URC), created by the Democratic National Committee (DNC), announced a recommendation that superdelegates be slashed by 60 percent starting with the 2020 presidential primary. What is a superdelegate? Superdelegates, technically called "unpledged" delegates, are party leaders, fundraisers and lobbyists. They are theoretically set-up as a counterbalance to grassroots activist candidates, allowing for stability and continuity in party direction, and preventing the election of unelectable, or single-issue, candidates. Superdelegates can vote however they choose, regardless of the will of voters in their state. They also only vote at the annual convention, so can switch their vote at any time up until that point, unlike state, or pledged, delegates, that must vote according to their primary or caucus results. Sadly control of the voting power of the SuperDelegates gives the controller vast power of being selected during the primaries, taking away the impact of the State primaries, as occurred during the 2016 Democratic Presidential primaries.

    Like (2)
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