Delegates for the Democratic National Convention are consisted of Pledged Delegates and Unpledged Delegates (or more commonly referred to as Super Delegates). In each case, they carry the heavy responsibility of casting a ballot that will determine the next presidential candidate of the part.
Before we proceed further, perhaps a little explanation on the delegates type are in order.
These delegates are ethically, but not legally, compelled to cast their ballots based on the results of Primaries and Caucuses conducted in their state.
Unpledged Delegates (Super Delegates)
Unpledged delegates make up approximately one-sixth of the total Democratic Party delegates attending a convention. They compromise members of the National Democratic Committee, elected Democratic members of the U.S Senate and House of Representatives, serving Governors, Mayor of the District of Columbia (when applicable), former elected and appointed officials (Presidents, Vice Presidents, Leaders of the U.S. Senate, Speakers of the U.S. House of Representatives, Minority Leaders, Chairs of the Democratic National Committee) and 21 Distinguished Party Leaders.
The majority of delegates are allocated a single casting vote for the convention; however, there will be a small number of delegates that will only be accorded fractional votes, which explains the higher delegate count compared to actual ballots total.
Delegates Distribution Mechanism
The mechanism behind the distribution of delegates, while not rocket science, is certainly close. As per DNC Delegate Selection Rule 8, they shall be distributed along these lines:
State population and average vote casted in two preceding Presidential Elections for Democratic candidates
Equal weightage to votes for the previous Presidential and Gubernatorial Elections
Equal weightage to votes for the two preceding Presidential Elections and state level party enrollment as of the beginning of this year (2012)
One third weightage for the first three items above
Weightage to population and Democratic strength on county, district and state levels
75% of delegates must be elected from congressional district level or smaller
In states with more than a single congressional district, the Chairman of the State Democratic Party must pledge 15%, in accordance with Rule 9 of the Delegate Selection Rule, which stipulates, among others, that the list of unpledged delegates residing in their states must be confirmed by the Secretary of the DNC before March 1 2012. Futhermore, they must be legal residents of the state, has not endorsed another presidential candidate from outside the party and are party members within the parameters specified in the Charter of the Democratic Party of the United States.
The selections of delegates are to be made, subject to strict adherence of the Delegate Selection Plan, by
State Party Committee (in accordance with Section 16, Article 9 of the party Charter)
A state level convention
A County Delegate Selection Committee
In addition, delegates’ selection must be based on the Six Basic Elements, as prescribed in the resolution passed in the 1964 Democratic National Convention, which among others stipulates:
Party meetings should not exclude anyone based on sex, race, color, age, religion, creed, sexual orientation, national origin, economic status or physical disability. Delegates’ selection should also be aimed towards achieving a proportionate level of delegates’ representation mirroring the state demographics.
States are also awarded delegates bonuses for Primaries and Caucuses that are held within a recommended ‘Window’. With the exception of Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada, who are traditional pre-Window states, the rest of the states and territories will hold their Primaries and Caucuses during one of the three stages below.
Stage 1: Beginning on Tuesday 6 March 2012
Stage 2: Beginning in the month of April (Accorded a 10% delegates bonus)
Stage 3: Beginning in May (Accorded a 20% bonus)
In addition, coordination between neighboring states are also rewarded through Regional Cluster Bonuses, where Primaries and Caucuses held back to back by a minimum of three states within the same region will be accorded an additional 15% delegates bonuses.
Delegates gather at the entrance of the 1912 Democratic National Convention
How To Become A Delegate
If you are not an elected (or former elected) party, state or federal official, you will need to make an application to your local County Delegate Selection Committee in order to become a Convention delegate. You can find their contact details and form (Declaration of Candidacy) from your local party office or its website.
The delegates selection procedures varies between states, where some hold it before the primaries and caucuses, some concurrently and also a few that determines their delegates after the event. As such, please ascertain the selection procedures of your local county and tailor your application accordingly.
Your application, along with the many thousands of others, will be randomly selected by the State Auditor, who will then inform you by mail of the acceptance of your candidacy and will be required to revert back acknowledging your interest to serve as a delegate for the Convention.
An important thing to note is that, unless specifically indicated by your local State Democratic Office, you will need to pay for your own travelling and accommodation expenses.
The number of pledged delegates for the 2012 Convention representing the 50 states, District Capital and Territories is estimated to be approaching 5,000, inclusive of bonuses (from a base of 3,700), and including the estimate 800 odd super delegates, the total number of delegates attending the 46th Democratic National Convention may well reach 6,000 people.