The Presidential Primary is complicated. As New York State’s failed attempt to cancel it shows, there’s more at stake than just the Democratic Nominee. Instead, hundreds of delegates are running around the country in their own right to give their communities a seat at the table.
So, what do Delegates do? And why, in New York, can you vote for Presidential candidates and Delegates seperately?
Selecting the Party nominee for President
When you vote for the Democratic nominee in the Presidential Primary, you are not actually voting for a candidate. You are voting for what proportion of delegates they should get from your District.
In New York, your Delegate district is your Congressional District (CD). Every District gets a certain number of delegates based on a formula (not going to go into it now). When you vote for a Presidential Candidate, you are voting for what percentage of the delegates they get. If they get 35% percent of the vote, they get 35% of the delegates. Those delegates go to the National Convention.
Since, in theory, a candidate could win 100% of the vote, most run more Delegates than will be able to attend the Convention.
That’s where voting for Delegate comes in…
Regardless of your Presidential vote, you can seperately vote for any delegate you want — even if they support a different candidate. Regardless of how many votes a Presidential Candidate gets, the order of Delegates who will get to attend the Convention with them is based on how many votes the individual Delegates receive.
So, if there are 100 Delegates in your CD, and Candidate A gets 50% of the vote, that person gets 50 Delegates. But how do they choose which 50 from their slate have the honor? Whichever Delegates have the most votes.
As a result, if you support Joe Biden, but your friend support Bernie Sanders, you can vote for Joe, to give him more Delegates, but you can also vote for your friend, to make her more likely to BE a Delegate among Bernie’s number.
There is one caveat, though. The Delegate rolls alternate Female-Male. So the Delegate list is the highest vote-getters, but it flips between the highest female vote-getter and the highest male-vote getter for each slot.
Delegates do more than select the President
If all Delegates did was select the Presidential nominee, cancelling the Primary wouldn’t matter if everyone had dropped out. But that’s not the case.
Delegates are the actual representatives of registered Party Members to the national organization. They are responsible for ratifying or changing the Party Rules and the Party Platform. If you want to an issue to the Party Platform, or change the Party Rules, you need a Delegate who’s on board.
I wrote another article explaining just how important the Delegates are to the political process here, but suffice it to say, their independent role in Party and political governance is why NY State was ordered to proceed with the Presidential Primary.
And that’s how Presidential Delegate voting works. In the end, it’s not a Presidential Delegate at all, it’s a National Convention Delegate — one of your many your representatives to your political party. Learn about some others running in this year’s election here.