NOTE: If you just want to know the relevant deadlines, they are here. Anyone who plans to run for a delegate or alternate position for the Democratic National Convention should familiarize themselves with the procedures outlined below and detailed further at the various links. At least one person from your candidate’s coalition in your district should attend a training on these procedures. I will be conducting a training on March 14th, in Flint. I am happy to schedule additional times and locations for training, contact me for scheduling.
How to Become a Michigan Delegate to the Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee
To be a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee, the first step is to join the Michigan Democratic Party (MDP). You can donate and join, or join for free. You must join no later than 5 pm, April 16th, 2020 in order to be eligible to run for National Convention Delegate or Alternate.
Next, you need to fill out a Declaration of Candidacy Form. Download the form, print it, and fill it out. The form instructs you to check boxes – but don’t worry if the boxes aren’t there on your screen. They appeared on my form only after I downloaded and printed it. If no checkboxes appear, circle your answers instead. Fill in your name, gender, address, phone number, email, and congressional district. If you don’t know your congressional district, you can look it up from your address here.
You must fill out and return this form no later than April 16th to be eligible to run for District Level Delegate, or by May 18th to be eligible to run for At-Large Delegate or Alternate, or PLEO Delegate (see below).
Three Types of Delegate, One Type of Alternate
Congressional District Delegates
There are a total of 82 congressional district delegates. They will be elected at your congressional district convention. Every congressional district will hold its convention on May 16th, 2020. You must be present at the convention to run for congressional district delegate. Anyone who has been a member of the Michigan Democratic Party for 30 days or more may run for the congressional district delegate positions in their congressional district. Most people will want to select this option.
At-Large Delegates and At-Large Alternates
Michigan has a total of 27 at-large delegates and 10 at-large alternates. They will be elected at the Michigan Democratic Party State Central Committee meeting held on June 13th, 2020, specific location still to be determined. Anyone who has been a member of the Michigan Democratic Party for 30 days or more may run for the at-large delegate or at-large alternate positions. You must be present at the State Central Committee meeting in order to run for At-Large Delegate or Alternate.
Pledged Party Leader and Elected Official (PLEO) Delegates
Michigan has a total of 16 PLEO delegates. They will be elected at the Michigan Democratic Party State Central Committee meeting held on June 13th, 2020, specific location still to be determined. To be a PLEO delegate you must be a big-city mayor, state-wide elected official, state legislative leader, state legislator, or another state, county, or local elected official, or party leader. Party leaders include club, caucus, county, and congressional district officers or executive committee members, and State Central Committee officers, delegates, or alternates. Any party position elected by the membership of any unit of the Party. Additionally, anyone the Party chooses to recognize as a party leader may run for the PLEO delegate positions. You must be present at the State Central Committee meeting in order to run for PLEO Delegate.
Once you submit your declaration of candidacy form, it is sent to the campaign of the candidate you have pledged on the form to support. The campaign will vet you, and may decide to accept or reject you as a potential representative. If the campaign does not accept you, you will not be allowed to run for a pledged delegate or alternate position.
May 16th Congressional District Convention
Any member of the Michigan Democratic Party who has been a member for at least 30 days, and who will be 18 years of age on or before November 3rd, 2020 may register, vote, and run for their candidate’s delegate positions at the district convention. When you register at your congressional district convention, you will be asked to sign a form pledging your support to your candidate (you may also choose to be uncommitted). No proxy votes (DSP Section IIIA.8e.1) are allowed at these district conventions.
The District Convention Credentials Committee will announce the number of people registered at the convention from each county or portion of a county, for purposes of weighted voting (see below). The District Convention Rules Committee will announce how many delegates the district gets as a whole, and how many delegates each candidate has been awarded from the district based on the March 10th primary.
Allocating District Level Delegates
For example, Congressional District 12 is allocated a total of seven (7) delegates to the national convention (Delegate Selection Plan page 9, data reproduced here). Suppose the results in CD12 are similar to the results in the state of Nevada. Sanders might have 40%, and Biden 20%, with no other candidate receiving 15% or more. The candidates receiving less than 15% of the vote receive no delegates. The remaining candidates re-calculate their percentages of the vote, excluding the votes for candidates who received less than 15%. In this example, that leaves a total of 40% + 20% = 60% of the total vote.
40% of 60% = 66.667% of 100%
20% of 60% = 33.333% of 100%
Sanders receives the whole number portion of 66.667% of 7 delegates.
7 x 66.667% = 4.667 = 4 delegates, with 0.667 left over.
Biden receives the whole number portion of 33.333% of 7 delegates.
7 x 33.333% = 2.333 = 2 delegates, with 0.333 left over.
That’s 4 + 2 = 6 delegates. There’s still 1 delegate to assign.
The 1 remaining delegate goes to the candidate with the largest decimal left over. In this case, Sanders, because 0.667 is larger than 0.333.
Final result: Sanders 5 delegates, Biden 2.
The convention rules committee will also divide each candidate’s delegates between males and females using a procedure defined in the Delegate Selection Plan (Section IIIA.8d.5bi, page 12). Look at the division between male and female delegates for your district in the Delegate Selection Plan (page 9, data reproduced here). If there are more female delegates to assign in the district as a whole, the first delegate is assigned female, if there are more male delegates to assign, the first delegate is assigned male.
Begin with the candidate who received the most total national delegates, in this case, Sanders, with five (5). There are more male delegates assigned to CD12 than female delegates (4 to 3), so the first of Sanders’ five delegates is male. The second is female, and they alternate back and forth until all five positions are assigned a gender. This gives Sanders three male and two female delegates. The last delegate assigned to Sanders was male, so the first delegate assigned to the candidate with the second-most total delegates is female. In this case, Biden first receives one female and then one male delegate. If more candidates reach the 15% threshold in your district, this procedure is repeated until all delegate positions are assigned to a gender.
Non-Binary Gender Inclusion
The number of male and female delegates may not differ by more than one delegate. Non-binary candidates are not counted as either male or female. To achieve this fairly, a non-binary person running for a Sanders delegate position in this example would reduce the total number of male delegates by one, bringing male and female delegates to equal numbers. If a second non-binary person ran for a Sanders delegate position, they would reduce the female delegates by one, and so on, beginning with the gender having the most delegates, and alternating between male and female positions with each non-binary candidate.
These gender assignments are eligibility requirements. The three Sanders positions assigned male must be elected from the pool of Sanders-campaign-approved male candidates for delegate. The positions assigned female must be elected from the Sanders-campaign-approved pool of female candidates for delegate. Non-binary people run in the pool they bumped a delegate from. For example, if one non-binary person ran for a Sanders delegate position, they would run in the pool of male candidates. If a second non-binary person ran for a Sanders delegate position, they would run in the pool of female candidates.
The convention then splits into separate caucuses for each presidential candidate. Those pledged to Sanders go to one area, the people pledged to Biden go to another, those pledged to Warren to another, and so on. Each candidate (or their designee) appoints a temporary caucus chair to preside over the election of a permanent caucus chair. The permanent caucus chair is elected by a majority vote of their candidate caucus. The permanent caucus chair presides over the election of the candidate’s delegates to the national convention. Do not run for candidate caucus chair if you are running for a delegate position.
For this example, let’s follow the Sanders candidate caucus. They have to elect three people to delegate-male positions and two people to delegate-female positions. These elections must be by proportional voting (MDP Rule 2.16). Proportional voting is a general term that encompasses many different voting systems. However, there is only one procedure for proportional voting allowed under the MDP’s Rules for Voting and Elections (RVE) – slate voting. The slate voting rules include a requirement for congressional districts with multiple counties (or portions of a county) to weight the votes of their counties by their democratic strength at the last major election as described in the RVE (Sections 4.0).
Let’s consider the election for the male delegates first. The males who are approved to run for a Sanders district-level delegate position organize themselves into slates of up to three candidates – there are only three positions available, so no more than three people are allowed on a single slate. If there are eight male people approved, they might organize themselves into two three-person slates and one two-person slate, for example. Or four two-person slates, or any other grouping of eight people into groups of no more than three. If you want to run and no one else agrees to be on a slate with you, or you want to run by yourself, you may run on a slate of one.
The procedures for slate voting are explained in detail here (and in the RVE Section 6.4 and Appendix A2). The procedures for weighted voting are in the RVE (Section 4.0 and Appendix A2). Anyone planning to vote or run for district-level delegate should familiarize themselves with the details.
The female delegates similarly organize themselves into slates of up to two and follow the slate voting procedure, including the procedure for weighted voting.
Biden has one male delegate and one female delegate. These are necessarily single-person slates, because there is only one position for a male delegate and one position for a female delegate. In this case, they are effectively single-position offices. For electing people to single-positions offices, there is only one valid election procedure under MDP rules – majority voting as explained in the RVE (5.1 – 5.3 and Appendix A1). The rules for majority voting also require weighting by county Democratic voting strength, as explained in the RVE (Section 4.0 and Appendix A1).
In brief, suppose there are three people running for a single-position office. If one of them receives more than 50% of the vote, they win. If no one receives more than 50% of the vote, the person with the lowest vote total is eliminated and a second vote is held between the two remaining people. In the case of a tie, lots are drawn to determine the winner. There’s a video going through all the details here.
Reconvening the District and Reporting Results
The district reconvenes as a whole. The chairs of each candidate caucus report the results, specifying the names of those elected. If there are any challenges to the results as announced, this is the time to raise them.
June 13th State Central Committee Meeting
The MDP State Central Committee will meet on June 13th, 2020 to elect 16 PLEO Delegates, 27 At-Large Delegates, and 10 At-Large Alternates.
Only members of the Michigan Democratic Party State Central Committee may register and vote. Any member of the MDP who has been a member for 30 days or more, and will be 18 on or before November 3rd, 2020 may run for any of the positions to be elected at this meeting.
When you register at the meeting, you will be asked to sign a form pledging your support for one candidate (you may also choose to be uncommitted). No proxy votes (DSP Section IIIE.3c) will be allowed at this meeting.
Allocation of Delegates
The three categories of delegates and alternates to be elected at this meeting are each allocated separately using the same formula as for district level delegates. For example, if Sanders received 40%, Biden 20%, and Warren 15%, and no other candidate received at least 15% of the state-wide vote at the March 10th primary, the PLEO delegates would be allocated as follows.
40% + 20% + 15% = 75% (total among candidates receiving at least 15% of the votes).
40% of 75% = 53.333% of 100%
20% of 75% = 26.666% of 100%
15% of 75% = 20.000% of 100%
Sanders receives the whole number portion of 53.333% of the 16 PLEO delegates.
16 x 53.333% = 8.533 = 8 delegates, with 0.533 leftover.
Biden receives the whole number portion of 26.666% of the 16 PLEO delegates.
16 x 26.666% = 4.266 = 4 delegates, with 0.266 leftover.
Warren receives the whole number portion of 20.000% of the 16 PLEO delegates.
16 x 20.000% = 3.200 = 3 delegates, with 0.200 leftover.
That’s 8 + 4 + 3 = 15 delegates. There is still one delegate to be awarded, which is decided by considering the largest leftover decimals. In this case, Sanders would receive the remaining delegate, because 0.533 > 0.266 > 0.200. Final result: Sanders 9, Biden 4, Warren 3.
The PLEO delegates will be divided by gender using the same procedure as for district-level delegates (see above). The exact same procedure will be followed to allocate the At-Large Delegates and Alternates to candidates according to the results of the March 10th primary, and then dividing them as equally as possible between males and females. The procedure for non-binary persons is also exactly the same as for district-level delegates (see above).
At-Large Delegates and At-Large Alternates are each allocated to candidates and divided by gender according to these same procedures.
The meeting will recess into candidate caucuses, exactly as at the district conventions (see above). Each candidate caucus will first elect PLEO Delegates, then At-Large Delegates, then At-Large Alternates. This is the order of elections required by the Delegate Selection Plan (Section IIIE.1), and may not be altered.
Re-Convening the Meeting as a Whole
After each category of delegates and alternates have been elected by the candidate caucuses, the meeting reconvenes and the results are announced. If there are any challenges to the results as announced, this is the time to raise them.
The State Central Committee will then elect the delegates and alternates selected by the candidate caucuses. No other outcome is allowed under the rules.
Notice of Elections
MDP rule 2.14 requires eligibility for office to be publicized at least 30 days in advance of any election. In this case, there is a specific list of those eligible to run for national convention delegate for each candidate in each congressional district. MDP leadership will know who is eligible by 5 pm on April 27th (Delegate Selection Plan Section IIIA.6, page 10). The list for each congressional district should be publicized immediately. MDP members should insist on knowing who is eligible to run for national delegate in their districts ahead of time, and those eligible should have as much time as possible to organize themselves into slates.
According to the MDP Director of Party Affairs, only those who have been rejected by their candidate’s campaign will be informed of their status. The people who are eligible, and the membership of the districts will not be informed about who is eligible to run for district delegate. This violates MDP Rule 2.14.
Will this information be available to some select insider group, but not the general membership? That would give an unfair organizing advantage to such a group. They could organize their slates before the convention, campaign for them, and arrive at the convention with supporters already lined up for their organized slates. Other groups among the membership will be at a disadvantage, disorganized, arranging slates on the day of the convention and having no time to line up support beforehand. Members should call the MDP and insist that the lists of those eligible for each candidate in each district be publicized. The MDP number is (517) 371-5410.
No Specially Endorsed or Sponsored Slates
Delegate Selection Plan Section IIIA.8e.4:
“Any individual or group of Democrats may sponsor or endorse a slate of candidates for convention delegates. But no slate may by virtue of such endorsement, receive preferential treatment or preferential place on a delegate selection ballot or be publicly identified as the “official” slate, and all slates must meet identical qualifying requirements for appearing on the ballot.”
“Slates of One”
Often in the past, congressional district leadership has tried to split slates up, and make everyone run on as a “slate of one”. This undermines slate voting, turning it into a non-proportional voting system in violation of MDP Rule 2.16. Fact: if several people want to run together on a slate, no one has the authority to split you up. No one. The only restriction is that you can’t have more people on your slate than positions to be filled at the election. In the Sanders example above, up to three people may run together on a slate for male-delegate, and up to two may run together on a slate for female-delegate.
Gerrymandering with Secret Maps
Often in the past, congressional district leadership has undermined slate voting by using an option under the Rules for Voting and Elections (Section 6.5 and Appendix A3), called “geographic distribution.” How it is used to undermine slate voting is explained in detail here. The congressional district is required to announce all the rules and procedures to be followed at the election at least 30 days in advance. The geographic distribution changes the eligibility (residency) requirements for each position. This means if they’re going to use geographic distribution, they must publicize their maps 30 days in advance. In 2017 and 2019, MDP leadership refused to enforce this rule, saying that they don’t want to “micromanage” how congressional districts run their votes – despite MDP Rule 2.3 which requires congressional districts to comply with MDP rules.
Make sure to ask your congressional district if they will use geographic distribution. If so, insist that they release the maps at least 30 days ahead of the election. Look over the maps carefully. Check to see if they are dividing up the positions into regions of just one delegate. This eliminates the proportional features of slate voting and is not a valid way to run an election under MDP rules. Specifically, rule 2.16 requires proportional voting for delegates to the national convention. Splitting up delegates by geography into areas with just one delegate violates this rule. The only valid reasons to run a “slate of one” are (1) a candidate wants to run as a slate of one, (2) a candidate cannot find anyone else to run on a slate with them, or (3) there is only one position available to a particular gender due to the number of positions assigned to the district (such as for Biden’s delegates in the example above). There is no other valid reason to have a “slate of one.”
Those are the major dates, details, and potential problems to watch for while becoming a Michigan delegate to the Democratic National Convention.
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