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Frequently asked questions about the delegate selection process
How many delegates are there?
There are 4,745 delegates:
3,979 delegates are determined by either a primary or a caucus/convention system in each state
3,489 delegates are determined by the primary results:
2,591 district delegates, directly from the primary results
898 at-large delegates, by some process related to the primary results
490 Pledged PLEOs Party Leaders & Elected Officials – determined by some process other than the primary results
766 Superdelegates – not controlled by the primary results
How many delegates does Bernie need?
There are 4,745 delegates. (766 are superdelegates who do not vote on the 1st ballot).
To win the nomination Bernie needs:
- A majority of pledged delegate votes, 1,990 of 3,979, on the first ballot
- A majority of all delegate votes, 2,373 of 4,745 on a second or subsequent ballot
For the details see The Math Behind the Democratic Delegate Allocation.
How are Delegates apportioned?
The Democratic Party's nomination process is PROPORTIONAL. Delegates are not awarded by WINNER-TAKE-ALL
What this means is that ONLY candidates getting 15% or more of the vote get delegates. Those getting under 15% do not get delegates. The votes for low support candidates are divided among the candidates that meet the 15% threshold. Usually the 15% threshold is based on congressional districts but occasionally state legislative districts are used.
Are all Delegates awarded according to the primary results?
No. Only around a half of the delegates are awarded directly based on the results of the primary vote.
What! Then how are delegates awarded?
It’s complicated. The rules vary by state, but there are four main kinds of delegates.
District delegates – are apportioned among the top vote-getters in each (usually congressional, but occasionally state legislative) district that are selected from a slate of delegates determined before or during the primary.
At-large delegates – are apportioned among the top vote-getters statewide by the percentage of the vote received above the 15% threshold
Pledged PLEOs – that are selected by the primary delegates or other process, usually at a state convention
Superdelegates – are automatic delegates who vote only if no candidate secures a majority of delegates before the convention.
Superdelegates, please explain what they do?
Superdelegates are elected officials, DNC members and others who get a vote in the nomination process. They don’t vote on the first ballot anymore, thanks to Bernie! If no candidate has 51+% of the delegates at the convention there will be a second ballot where Superdelegates are able to cast a vote.
What else happens during the delegate selection process?
Members are selected for the Convention Standing Committee – three main committees that control what happens at the convention and what platform will be voted on: Credentials Committee, Rules Committee, and Platform Committee. We need to fight to get on these committees. These positions are filled during the delegate selection process. You don't need to be a delegate to be selected to fill these seats.
The Delegation Chair is selected and Pages to the convention are selected.
And there are the Electors to the Electoral College for the general election that are selected during this process.
We can and should try to get these positions.
What can we do to get Bernie more delegates?
It’s really important to keep in mind that the delegate allocation process is more involved than just doing well in the primaries.
There are filing dates, deadlines, meetings, caucuses, conventions and elections. We didn’t know about these intricacies and details in 2016. But that changes now.
We’re going read the rules, understand them and make sure we are actively involved at every stage of the Delegate Selection process and Standing Committee selections in every state.
Why do we need to fight for every delegate?
Winning the nomination for Bernie is NOT about the popular vote. It’s about delegates.
2,591 of the 3,979 primary delegates are based on actual voting in the primaries. 1,388 of the primary delegates are from some state process. We need to get as many of those 1,388 delegates as we can.
We did not do a good job fighting for delegates in 2016 and it negatively impacted Bernie’s ability to win the nomination. For example, in West Virginia where Bernie won every single county he only received 18 of 29 delegates! We must not let this happen again. If we want Bernie to win we need to get fight to get every delegate we can.
The more delegates Bernie has, the more leverage we have.
What happens if Bernie doesn’t get the majority of delegates?
Even if Bernie doesn’t get 51+% of the delegates, if he has the plurality of delegates, or a whole lot of delegates, his position to get the nomination is strong. And large numbers of delegates means that we have more power to fight for him and for the progressive policies we believe in.
One of the reasons Bernie’s efforts and negotiations at the DNC convention in 2016 were so critical was that he was able to force the Democratic Party to agree to reduce the importance of Superdelegates and make other changes to the Party rules and platform. We’re going to do the same thing this time by leveraging our power to impact the Rules Committee, Credentials Committee and the Platform Committee.
What is a contested convention?
If at the end of the primaries/caucuses there is no clear winner with enough delegates to win the nomination there will be a vote or series of votes at the DNC convention to determine the nominee. There will be negotiations and political maneuvering behind the scenes. We will also show up in large numbers to r/BernTheConvention2020!
What do I need to do to become a delegate for Bernie?
The rules vary by state and the process is explained under each state. (once I get the information up on https://voteforbernie.org
Here’s some general information:
You have to be an eligible voter
Register to vote. Only registered Democrats are eligible in many states.
You will need to pledge support for Bernie
You will have to promise to uphold the principles of the Democratic Party
The Convention is in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, July 13 – 16.
There’s no requirement of being a delegate at a previous convention or state convention to become a Delegate.
All Delegates are pledged to a specific candidate, except for Superdelegates
You have to pay your own expenses to attend
You will need to submit a notice of candidacy and actively seek support for your candidacy.
There are Demographic preferences to have diversity and a gender balance among the delegates
Where can I get more information?
https://VoteforBernie.org has agreed to host the information. I'm working on it as we speak.
(this will be how to get the information once it's posted) Click on your state for detailed information on the process of becoming a delegate. There’s a link to the delegate selection plan and to the state party website. If you have questions about the process contact the Democratic Party in your state.
For now, I'll be posting information about each state as I find some time. And I will add those posts to this post so the information is collected in one reddit post (eventually). There will also be a r/BernieDelegates sub and state subs.
270towin has a lot of information about how the delegates are distributed and has a useful and very colorful delegate map. And the Green Papers has a lot of detailed information about the delegate process and the 2020 election.
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Today matters. Let's show up. It's been a really hard week for Bernie and the family. Donate what you can, even if it's not much. Every dollar counts!
Also, if you are able to do it, this is a great idea: Pledge to donate "A Dollar a Day". Comment on that thread if you're up for it!