Updated information is here.

The Michigan Democratic Party released this guide to remote voting for the district level delegate selection process. Paragraph 7 of their instructions for District Conventions says “Candidates for District Level Delegate must be gender-balanced and will be decided by a plurality vote” (emphasis added). MDP rules (2.16), as well as DNC rules and the MDP Delegate Selection Plan all explicitly require proportional voting. The MDP Rules on Voting and Elections (RVE) specifies exactly which voting systems are allowed in the MDP. The only method of proportional voting allowed is slate voting.

Proportional voting is a broad category of election systems. There are many different kinds of proportional voting, such as cumulative voting and single transferable vote. The purpose of proportional voting is to ensure coalitions in the minority can win representation in proportional to their numbers among the electorate. Under any instance of proportional voting, if a coalition has 40% of the votes, they will win about 40% of the positions available. Under plurality voting, the largest group will win every position. No smaller group will win any positions at all.

According to the MDP, this is a mistake and they are correcting it. They told me unequivocally that the elections will be carried out according to the rules. I asked how they were going to implement proportional voting. They said, “with the SADV, the way we’ve always done it.” The State Allocation of Delegate Vote (SADV) is used for geographical weighting, not for proportional voting. The RVE makes it unequivocally clear that (geographically) weighted voting (RVE 2.6) and proportional voting (RVE 2.2, 2.5) are two completely separate processes. This answer does not encourage confidence.

It takes preparation and planning to run a successful proportional voting election. Voting is scheduled to being on May 7th – the day after tomorrow. There is a significant barrier, not insurmountable, but significant, to implementing slate voting under social distancing. In slate voting, candidates need to organize into slates, which usually happens in person. This can be overcome by sending everyone running for a given position the list of candidates for that position, with contact details. Then they can organize themselves into slates remotely. That would be a good solution, but it will require more than today and tomorrow to implement effectively.

Proportional voting is a necessary feature of any fair and democratic voting system that values minorities and minority opinions. It is a crucial Party function to ensure fair and inclusive democratic elections. 

I will update this post as new information becomes available.

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