Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Noon Denver time update: Democratic Party Convention roll call vote

Based on a review of a wide number of sources (some off the record, most on) here is my best understanding of what is taking place before the Convention is called to order today and the roll call held. Go here for the official schedule of the day. According to that schedule, the roll call will be held in the first hour of the first session of today, between 3 and 4 p.m. mountain time.

The schedule does not disclose what is happening this morning and early afternoon with the delegates. As best as I can judge, what is going on is that the delegates are being rounded up state by state for a caucus-like (?!?) process, headed by Obama campaign staff it seems. At these sessions delegates are being required to express their preference for Senator Clinton or Senator Obama, with the understanding that these preferences will then be disclosed on the floor of the convention.

There is no Party rule that I can find that specifies this procedure, so it appears to be another improvisation. The question then arises, does this improvisation violate Party rules or are the rules silent on the matter?

The procedures from the 2008 Call to the Convention that would seem to be most relevant are reprinted below, with the most directly significant ones emphasized in bold color. My own annotations as to how the specified official procedures relate to the reported sessions being held now are in italic color.

Summary: There are specified procedures for dealing with almost any contingency that could arise during an actual roll call vote. The delegates can force a roll call vote if they so choose. The caucus-like sessions I believe are taking place now would appear to violate the specific rule against "secret ballots".

From the Call to The Convention:

7. Roll Call for Presidential Candidate:

a. After nominations for presidential candidates have closed, the Convention shall proceed to a roll call vote by states on the selection of the presidential candidate. The roll call voting shall follow the alphabetical order of the states with the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico and the territories treated as states for the purpose of the alphabetical roll call. [Still no word as to whether this order will be followed and a full polling of all states completed]

b. A majority vote of the Convention’s delegates shall be required to nominate the presidential candidate. [I would have thought the simplest way to determine a majority vote would be simply to vote, on the floor, as specified by the Call to the Convention.]

...

d. Balloting will continue until a nominee is selected. The nominee shall become the candidate of the Democratic Party of the United States for the Office of President upon the conclusion of his or her acceptance speech.

8. Acceptance Speech by Presidential Candidate: Immediately after the selection of the Democratic nominee for President, the Permanent Chair shall invite the nominee to
deliver an acceptance speech to the Convention.

....

F. Voting:

1. Secret Ballot: No secret ballots shall be permitted at any stage of the Convention or its committee proceedings. [The improvised caucus-like sessions certainly seem like "secret ballots" if one interprets "secret" as nonpublic, not conducted during officially convened sessions, and/or not accessible to press coverage. I would so interpret "secret" but I am confident that others would give the word some other definition.]

2. Proxy Voting: Neither delegate nor alternate delegate votes may be cast by proxy.

3. Roll Call Votes:

a. Voting shall be by voice vote or, when prescribed by these rules, by roll call vote. The roll call voting shall follow the order as specified in Article VIII.C.7.a. A roll call vote shall also be had if the Chair is in doubt or upon demand of any delegate supported by twenty percent (20%) of the Convention’s delegates as evidenced by one of the following methods:

(1) A petition submitted to the Chair indicating support of the demand by delegations which comprise not less than twenty percent (20%) of the Convention’s delegates. In the case of the petition in support of a demand for a roll call vote, a delegation shall be taken to support the demand if a majority of its delegates have signed a petition to do so.

(2) By the rising in support of the demand by not less than twenty percent (20%) of the delegates present.
[Taken together, it would seem that a roll call vote will have to be held, because even if Chair Nancy Pelosi does not regard herself as "in doubt", a demand by 20% of delegates suffices to force a roll call vote and from what I have learned at least that many delegates want a free, fair, and honest roll call - but of course whether they stand up to demand that lies in their own hands at this point.]

b. When a roll call vote is ordered, the roll call shall be called by states, and the Chair of each delegation or his or her designee shall report the vote of his or her delegation and shall send to the Convention Secretary a tally showing the vote of each member of his or her delegation indicating whether such vote was cast in person or by an alternate. Such roll call votes may be conducted by having the Chair for each delegation report by telephone, or electronic voting mechanism, the vote of his or her delegation to the rostrum, provided that the telephone poll shall not be used in the balloting for the Presidential and Vice Presidential nominees. Business shall be permitted to proceed during the telephone roll call and votes may be conducted by electronic mechanism. After each official vote, the Delegation Chair shall record and tally votes of the delegation on official roll call tally sheets provided by the Convention Secretary. All official roll call tally sheets shall be turned in to the Convention Secretary at a specified location not more than thirty (30) minutes after the close of each voting period.

c. All delegates to the National Convention pledged to a presidential candidate shall in all good conscience reflect the sentiments of those who elected them.

...

e. On a roll call vote by states, the vote cast on behalf of a delegation may be challenged by communication to the Convention Secretary by telephone or other means by any voting member of that state’s delegation within ten (10) minutes after the Convention Secretary’s announcement of the state’s vote. The votes of that delegation shall then be recorded as polled without regard to any state law, party rule, resolution or instruction binding the delegation or any member thereof to vote for or against any candidate or proposition. The Convention Chair may send a parliamentarian to the delegation to conduct the poll. At the discretion of the Convention Chair, the roll call may continue instead of waiting for the result of the polling.

f. On a roll call vote conducted by telephone or other electronic voting mechanism, the vote of a delegation as shown on the video projection system may be challenged by communication to the Convention Secretary by telephone or other means by any voting member of the delegation within ten (10) minutes after the delegation’s vote is shown on the screen.

g. A demand to poll a delegation may be withdrawn at any time before the actual polling has begun.

4. Interruption of Vote: When the question has been put, the vote thereon may not be interrupted for any purpose other than a demand for a roll call vote or a point of order directed to the conduct of the vote.
5. Determination of Question: Except as otherwise provided in these rules, all questions, including the question of nominations of candidates for President and Vice President of the United States, shall be determined by a majority vote of the delegates to the Convention.

2 Comments:

Blogger Patricia said...

A number of people I know from all political persuasions have been watching the DNC and their sham convention with great horror. Their thought is that the DNC has become a totalitarian dictatorship and that no state should allow any Democrat to be placed on a state ballot. If the DNC thinks that only a handful of people are watching their shameful behavior and that people will forgot they are wrong.

August 27, 2008 at 4:09 PM  
Blogger Lynne said...

Thanks Heidi and thank you also, for last night in Denver. It was a pleasure meeting you, and listening to you speak about these procedures. We listened to Hillary's speech on the radio as we drove through the Rockies, back to New Mexico and tonight, through my tears(and smirks) I watched Bill Clinton give his speech (in spite of the rules he was allegedly given) and remembered why I loved him as President and will continue to work in any way I can for the Democratic ideals, he and his wife continue to uphold, even in the face of tyranny.

August 27, 2008 at 11:24 PM  

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