Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The stated procedures for a roll call vote at the Democratic National Convention

In response to questions from delegates to the Democratic Party National Convention, this post identifies the relevant provisions in the 2008 Call to the Convention regarding the specified mechanisms for the upcoming roll call vote on August 27th. Before turning to those provisions, I must note two questions that I cannot answer. NOTE THAT I HAVE PRESENTED A SHORTER LIST OF PROVISIONS with NEW ANNOTATIONS because of the focus on the roll call procedures.
  • According to one prominent Democratic Party Leader the current "magic number" - the number of votes on a ballot that a candidate must receive to gain a simple majority and thereby become the nominee is 2211. The calculation of any such number is complicated under ordinary circumstances and is further complicated this year by the fact that it remains unclear whether and how the Florida and Michigan delegations will be seated. (Given the credibility crisis the Democratic Party is facing, one would hope that the Convention Credentials Committee will seat Michigan without awarding any pledged delegates to Senator Obama, who voluntarily removed his name from the Michigan primary. That was his choice, and I respect his freedom to have so chosen. But Party rules specifically state that a candidate whose name is not on a primary ballot cannot win delegates in that primary.) Bottom line: in typical fashion, Howard Dean, Chair of the Party and Temporary Chair of the Convention, has not given any official word on the current "magic number". Between the calculation difficulties and this silence, the 2211 number may be correct and/or the one that will used at the roll call, but it may not be.
  • The timing of when superdelegates vote is not addressed in the 2008 Call to the Convention. It would clarify matters greatly if Dr. Dean would publicly speak to this question, even if only to say that this will be resolved on the floor as part of parliamentary process under the general rules governing the roll call vote or by the Rules Committee which meets before a permanent Chair has been selected and may have the authority to rule on this matter.
On to an annotated analysis of relevant provisions from Section VIII. PROCEDURAL RULES OF THE 2008 DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL CONVENTION.

The following Procedural Rules shall serve as the Temporary Rules of Procedure for the 2008 Democratic National Convention and are recommended to the Rules Committee and to the Convention as the Permanent Rules of Procedure for the conduct of the 2008 Democratic National Convention. [annotation: it is because of the clause beginning with "recommended" that these Procedural Rules can consistent with themselves be ignored by the Rules Committee and Chairs at the Convention.]
B. Temporary Roll: [annotation: this created so that the next two steps, reports from the Credentials Committee and the Rules Committee, respectively, can be submitted and voted upon]

1. The Secretary of the Democratic National Committee shall determine a Temporary Roll of delegates to the Convention which shall consist only of those persons selected and certified as delegates in accordance with the Rules and pursuant to this Call, unless a credentials contest shall have arisen with respect to any such person(s), in which case the Secretary shall include on the Temporary Roll the name of the credentials contestant recommended for inclusion by the Credentials Committee in its report. [annotation: because this step is taken before the report from the Credentials Committee is addressed, it is unclear whether delegates from Michigan and Florida will be part of the Temporary Roll]
2. Persons whose names are included on the Temporary Roll of delegates shall be permitted to vote on all matters before the Convention until after the adoption of the report of the Credentials Committee; provided that no person shall be permitted to vote on his or her credentials contest.

C. Order of Business: The order of business for the Democratic National Convention shall be as provided in these rules and in any special order of business adopted under Section D. of these rules. The Chair of the Convention may, at appropriate times, interrupt the order of business provided for in these rules for introductions, announcements, addresses, presentations, resolutions of tribute and appreciation, or remarks appropriate to the business of the Convention.

1. Report of the Committee on Credentials: The Report of the Credentials Committee shall be acted upon before the consideration of other business.

a. The Temporary Chair [annotation: Howard Dean] shall recognize the Chair of the Credentials Committee for up to thirty (30) minutes to present the committee’s report unless a longer period of time shall be provided in a special order of business agreed upon by the Convention. The Chair of the committee may present committee amendments, yield part of his or her time to others and may yield for the presentation and disposition of minority reports without losing the right to the floor.

b. The Temporary Chair shall arrange for the orderly presentation of amendments and of minority reports offered at the direction of the committee. Twenty (20) minutes shall be allowed for the presentation of each committee amendment or minority report unless a longer period for any committee amendment or minority report is provided in special orders of business agreed to by the Convention. Time shall be allotted equally to proponents and opponents of each committee amendment or minority report. The questions shall be put on each committee amendment or minority report immediately following its presentation without intervening motion.

c. Upon conclusion of the consideration and disposition of committee amendments and minority reports, the Temporary Chair shall put the question on the adoption of the report of the Credentials Committee with amendments previously adopted, if any, without intervening motion. A favorable majority vote of the Convention delegates eligible to vote shall constitute adoption of the report.

d. 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.

2. Report of Rules Committee: The Temporary Chair may then recognize the Chair of the Rules Committee to present the committee’s report for the Rules of the Convention and minority reports, if any, in the same manner as that provided for the presentation of theReport of the Credentials Committee. However, the Temporary Chair may, in the interest
of conducting an orderly proceeding, opt to place before the Convention the election of the Permanent Chair, the Co-Chairs and the Secretary, prior to the presentation of the Rules Committee report. [annotation: note the likelihood that Dr. Dean will hold an election for the Permanent Convention Chair BEFORE any votes on the Rules Committee reports occur]

3. Convention Chair: The Convention shall proceed to elect the Permanent Convention Chair in the following manner:

a. In accordance with the requirements of the 1984 Democratic National Convention Resolution which calls for alternating the Convention Chair by gender, the Permanent Chair of the 2008 Democratic National Convention shall be a female. [annotation: the DNC and DNCC have announced that it is settled that the only person who will nominated is Nancy Pelosi but the rules permit other names to be entered as possible permananent chairs, so long as the permanent chair is a woman]
b. The Chair of the Rules Committee shall be recognized to offer a nomination for Convention Chair as recommended by the Committee on Rules. Nominations from the floor shall then be received. [annotation: nominations "from the floor" presumably can come from any accreditied delegate]
c. When there are no further nominations or upon adoption of a motion to close nominations, the Temporary Chair of the Convention shall conduct a vote for Permanent Convention Chair. [annotation: the biggest question mark at this juncture: will the Temporary Chair take nominations from the floor befor adopting a motion to close nominations?]
d. A majority vote of the delegates present and voting shall be required to elect the Convention Chair. Balloting shall continue until a Chair is elected. The Permanent Chair shall then take the gavel.


6. Nomination of the Democratic Candidate for President: [annotation: at this point it is unclear whether these provisions will be used to enter Senator Clinton's and Senator Obama's names into nomination or whether their names shall be entered at the discretion of the DNC Chair, Dr. Dean] The Permanent Chair shall receive nominations from the floor for the Democratic candidate for the Office of
President of the United States in the following manner:
a. Requests to nominate a presidential candidate shall be in writing and shall have affixed thereto the written approval of the proposed nominee and the name of the individuals who shall be recognized to make the nominating and seconding speeches on behalf of a presidential candidate and shall be delivered to the Convention Secretary at a location as specified by the Secretary no later than 6:00 p.m. of the day preceding the day designated for the commencement of presidential nominations.
b. Each such request must be accompanied by a petition indicating support for the proposed nominee signed by delegates representing not less than 300 or more than 600 delegate votes, not more than 50 of which may come from one (1) delegation. A delegate may not sign more than one (1) nominating petition for president and for vice president.
c. The order for nominating presidential candidates shall be determined by the National Chairperson of the Democratic National Committee, the Permanent Chair of the Convention and each presidential candidate, or his or her authorized representative, who qualifies to be nominated pursuant to this section.
d. Each presidential candidate shall be allowed a total of twenty (20) minutes for the presentation of his or her name in nomination by nominating and
seconding speeches, the time to run without interruption from the recognition of the nominator.
e. Delegates and alternates shall maintain order during and following nominations for the Office of President and demonstrations shall not be permitted.

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. [annotation: no word on when the superdelegates will be polled]
b. A majority vote of the Convention’s delegates shall be required to nominate the presidential candidate. [annotation: this provision reflects a change made after the 1932 Democratic Nominating Convention, when a 2/3 majority was required and that led to a need for the four ballots it took to nominate Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Jr.]
c. Delegates may vote for the candidate of their choice whether or not the name of such candidate was placed in nomination. Any vote cast other than a vote for a presidential candidate meeting the requirements of Article VI of this Call and Rule 12.K. of the 2008 Delegate Selection Rules shall be considered a vote for “Present.”
[annotation: assuming that Senator Clinton's and Senator Obama's names are both in nomination and no other candidate's name is, the only votes that shall register for a particular candidate, rather than as "Present" will be votes cast for either Senator Clinton or for Senator Obama.]
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.

D. Special Orders of Business: It shall be in order at any time for the Rules Committee at the request of the Chair of the Convention, or pursuant to its rules, to report a resolution providing a special order of business for debate of any resolution, motion, committee report or minority report or for the consideration of any matter.
E. Powers and Duties of the Chair:


F. Voting:
1. Secret Ballot: No secret ballots shall be permitted at any stage of the Convention or its committee proceedings.
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. [annotation: as of this writing the Party has committed itself to a roll call vote; if the Party changes its position a roll call vote can be demanded by delegates via subsections 3a(1) and 3a(2) below]
The roll call voting shall follow the order as specified in Article VIII.C.7.a. [see annotation above for the unclarity regarding when the superdelegates will vote] 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.
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. [annotation: these procedures must be implemented properly]
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. [annotation: traditionally, this has meant as pledged delegates were elected; this year, Senator Obama with the assistance of the DNC has been urging pledged delegates to vote for Senator Obama regardless of this tradition; if tradition is ignored than Senator Obama's delegates may well decide that their good consciences call for them, in some cases, to vote for Senator Clinton]
d. In the case where a pledged delegate is not on the floor of the Convention Hall at the time a vote is taken, an alternate may be designated according to the rules tocast the vote. In no case may an alternate cast a vote for a delegate allocated under I.F., I.G., I.H. or I.I. of this Call.
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.


Blogger Marsha said...

Thanks again for the clarity. As I read the provisions/rules earlier, I understood that when superdelegates cast their votes at the convention, they do so with the State delegatation in which they reside. As with your caveats, this may or may not be the case this year.

August 20, 2008 at 1:25 PM  

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