The process of seating the Florida & Michigan delegations [UPDATE]
by Andre Walker, Sun Jan 27, 2008 at 11:50:22 AM EST
I spent some time on the phone with a DNC official with a firm grasp of the delegate process [...] So there's a scenario under which Clinton doesn't quite have enough delegates, but her allies gain control of the credentials committee, seat Florida, and push her over the top. Source: Ben Smith/Politico.com article "Florida, technically"Can we just go ahead and say it? MyDD has some of the best and well-knowledged researchers on the internet. -Andre
As I've previously stated, the 2008 Democratic nominating contest is shaping up to be as much about the process as it is about the horse-race. With Sen. Clinton's recent statement regarding the seating of the delegations from Florida and Michigan, I believe now is the time to examine the process of how exactly the delegates from the Wolverine State and the Sunshine State will be allowed to vote at the 2008 Democratic National Convention.
The question of whether Florida and Michigan's delegations will be seated and allowed to vote in Denver this August is a question of each state's credentials and as such, this question falls under the purview of the Committee on Credentials for the 2008 Democratic National Convention. Simply put, the Credentials Committee is the committee that determines the eligibility of each delegate to vote.
Article VII of the Call for the 2008 Democratic National Convention establishes the three standing committees for the Convention; Credentials, Rules, and Platform; and also sets the total number of votes on each committee as well as how many committee votes each state gets on each of the three standing committees [Source: Article VII, Call for the 2008 Democratic National Convention]. The Credentials Committee has a total of 183 votes with 158 of those votes apportioned among the states & territories (American Samoa, Democrats Abroad, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands) and the remaining 25 votes awarded to Democratic Party Leaders & Elected Officials.
Under Article VII.C.1. of the Call for the 2008 Democratic National Convention,
"The members of the standing committees allocated to the states and territories shall proportionately represent the presidential preference of all candidates (including uncommitted status) receiving the threshold percentage used in that state's delegation to calculate the at-large apportionment pursuant to Rule 13.E. of the Delegate Selection Rules, provided, however, that members of the standing committees from primary states shall be allocated to presidential candidates (including uncommitted status) based on the statewide popular vote"[Source: Article VII.C.1., Call for the 2008 Democratic National Convention].
Rule 13.E states,
"At-large and pledged party leader and elected official delegate and alternate positions shall be allocated to presidential preferences by reference to primary or convention votes or to the division of preference among district-level delegates or alternates, as the case may be, as specified in Rule 10.C., except that a preference falling below a threshold of 15% shall not be awarded any delegates or alternates at this level. Such delegates and alternates in primary states shall be allocated to presidential preference (including uncommitted status) according to the statewide primary vote"[Source: Rule 13.E, 2008 Delegate Selection Rules for the Democratic National Convention].
In other words, each presidential candidate that receives 15% of more of the vote statewide in the Democratic primary is entitled to representation on the three standing convention committess.
For example, in yesterday's South Carolina Democratic Presidential Primary, Barack Obama received 55.4% of the statewide vote, Hillary Clinton received 26.5%, and John Edwards received 17.6% [Source: January 26, 2008 South Carolina Democratic Presidential Preference Primary Results; South Carolina State Elections Commission]. Under the rules, Clinton, Obama, and Edwards are all eligible to receive representation on the three standing committees. However, just because these three candidates are eligible for standing committee members doesn't necessarily mean that they'll get any standing committee members.
Article VII.C.2. states the following:
"The presidential preference percentage of each candidate receiving the applicable percentage or more within the delegation shall be multiplied by the total number of standing committee positions allocated to that state or territorial delegation. If the result of such multiplication does not equal 0.455 or above, the presidential preference in question is not entitled to representation on the standing committee. If the result of such multiplication is 0.455 but less than 1.455, the presidential preference in question is entitled to one (1) position. Those preferences securing more than 1.455 but less than 2.455 are entitled to two (2) positions, etc." [Source: Article VII.C.2., Call for the 2008 Democratic National Convention]
Applying this to real life, South Carolina has been allocated a total of six standing committee members (two for the Credentials Committee, two for the Rules Committee, and two for the Platform Committee) [Source: Appendix D, Call for the 2008 Democratic National Convention]. If you multiply each candidate's percentage of the popular vote by the number of standing committee members allocated to each committee from South Carolina, here's what you would get:
Barack Obama: 0.554 x 2 = 1.108
Hillary Clinton: 0.265 x 2 = 0.53
John Edwards: 0.176 x 2 = 0.352
Under the rule, Clinton and Obama would receive one member each on the credentials, rules, and platform committees because the product of multiplying the statewide primary vote percentage by the total number of standing committee members allocated to the state equaled more than 0.455 (Clinton - 0.53 = 1 standing committee member; Obama - 1.108 = 1 standing committee member). Unfortunately, since John Edwards fell below the 0.455 threshold (0.352), he will not receive a standing committee member at all.
Now, for the purposes of explaining how the delegations from Michigan & Florida will get seated and allowed to vote, let's say that once all the votes are cast, the delegates elected, and the standing committee members allocated, Hillary Clinton ends up with a majority of the votes (92) on the Credentials Committee. As I stated above, the Credentials Committee is the committee that determines the eligibility of each delegate to vote at the Democratic National Convention. Once the Credentials Committee is fully organized and constituted, Hillary Clinton could instruct her majority on the committee to include a resolution in the Credentials Committee Report that overturns the decision of the Rules & Bylaws Committee for the Democratic National Committee and seats the delegates from Florida and Michigan with full voting privileges.
If that happens, then the next step will be for the full Democratic National Convention to vote on the adoption of the Credentials Committee Report with the resolution that reinstates the voting privileges of the delegates from Michigan and Florida. Interestingly enough, that's the first order of business that the Democratic National Convention delegates will have to take up.
Here's what Article VIII.C.1 says:
"Report of the Committee on Credentials: The Report of the Credentials Committee shall be acted upon before the consideration of other business"[Source: Article VIII.C.1., Call for the 2008 Democratic National Convention].
From this point forward, it's up to the Convention to accept or reject the Credentials Committee Report and the Credentials Committee Report must be acted upon before the consideration of the Rules Committee Report; the Platform Committee Report; and the Roll Call of the States to officially nominate the Democratic Party's presidential candidate.
For the sake of the argument, let's say that the full Convention rejects the Credentials Committee Report. Here's what the Procedural Rules for the 2008 Democratic National Convention say:
"In the event that the committee's report shall not be adopted when the question is put, the committee shall immediately reconvene to reconsider its report and shall present a new report to the Convention as soon as possible"[Source: Article VIII.C.1.d., Call for the 2008 Democratic National Convention].
What this means is that if the Convention delegates reject the Credentials Committee Report, then the Credentials Committee re-convenes, puts together a new report for adoption or rejection by the full Democratic National Convention, and re-submits it. The question from this point forward becomes how many times the Hillary Clinton-controlled Credentials Committee will push for the restoration of Florida and Michigan's voting privileges, and if some Clinton members of the Credentials Committee will waver and vote against the wishes of their candidate.
So let's go through this again step by step:
- Each state allocates its standing committee members by the result of the statewide primary vote; as a result, Hillary gets a majority of the Credentials Committee members;
- Hillary instructs her members of the Credentials Committee to include in the committee's report a resolution that reinstates the voting privileges of the delegations from Michigan & Florida; and
- The full Democratic National Convention votes to accept or reject the report of the Credentials Committee. If the Democratic National Convention adopts the Credentials Committee Report, then Florida and Michigan are allowed to vote. If the Convention doesn't, then the Credentials Committee re-convenes and submits a new report to the Convention for its consideration.