Sunday, June 01, 2008

The Order Of The Votes: The Democratic Rules And ByLaws Committee

Yesterday the Democratic National Committee's Rules And ByLaws Committee (RBC) listened to, and then voted on, a set of three proposals, each, for seating the delegates elected by the primary elections in Michigan and Florida. 

For Florida, the RBC followed the rules, whether or not these rules were fair, or resulted in the most reasonable result.  Yet, for Michigan, the rules were changed, and, even though I believe the accepted proposal represents the most rational compromise, it conflicts with the rules, and hence the reasoning behind the RBC's Florida ruling.

The order in which the proposals were voted on in the afternoon matched the order in which they were presented in the morning.  The order of the votes may have changed the outcome.  Sophisticated voting techniques, my favorite all involve ranked ballots.

In the case of Florida, the first vote was to seat the delegates with 100% voting power.  This was a violation of the rules but it isn't clear it wasn't fair.  By and large, the Republican Party decided when the Democrats of Florida had their primary, and hence caused them to be penalized.  The motion failed, 12 to 15.

The next motion followed the rules, but removed any extra penalties.  It passed unanimously.

The first vote on Michigan was also one that violated the rules.  It seats the Michigan delegation with half voting power, but it also comes up with made-up numbers for the delegates.  The numbers were made up by the Michigan Democrats, based on a formula explained to include the actual vote count, exit polls, and uncounted write-in votes.  There were two other distributions of the delegates proposed, Obama's even split, 64 delegates for each candidate, and Clinton's, which was to give her 73 delegates and to give 55 to uncommitted.  The proposal of the Michigan Democrats passed, 19-8, but we will never know how much support there was for either of the other two proposals.  Now, it does appear that the Michigan proposal was a compromise, and so probably earned the most votes, but only with a more sophisticated voting method will can we ever be sure.

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