On Saturday, Aug. 25, Democratic Party officials overwhelmingly voted to strip superdelegates of much of their power in the presidential nomination process. Superdelegates will now not be allowed to vote on the first ballot at a contested national convention unless the outcome is already assured or it deadlocks.
Superdelegates are top officials in the Democratic Party and include members of Congress and the Democratic National Committee (DNC). Superdelegates, who made up approximately 15 percent of the delegates in 2016, angered Bernie Sanders’ supporters for largely siding with Hillary Clinton.
DNC Chairman Tom Perez and Sanders allies pushed for the reform package.
“Today is a historic day for our party. We passed major reforms that will not only put our next presidential nominee in the strongest position possible, but will help us elect Democrats up and down the ballot, across the country,” said Perez.
Sanders’ supporters and activists groups applaud the change, while traditionalists within the Democratic Party oppose the measure and said it would disenfranchise party insiders.
Another opponent of the change is the Congressional Black Caucus, which stated taking away votes of black superdelegates effectively suppresses them. Not all African-American members of the DNC were unified behind the Congressional Black Caucus’ position, with Nina Turner, president of the Sanders-founded group Our Revolution, stating:
“Real voter disenfranchisement is living in a state where you forfeit your rights if you’re a felon. Real disenfranchisement is officials closing down polling places that disproportionately affect black voters. This is a false equivalency, to talk about something that happens in the DNC and compare it to the hard, bloody fight to secure the franchise in the real world.”
Last week’s reform puts Democrats’ presidential nominating process more in-line with the Republican Party, which reformed its rules after 2012 to require superdelegates vote for their respective state’s primary winner.
[Politico] [NBC News] [Washington Post] [PBS]