On March 3, Democratic presidential primary ballots will have 14 presidential candidates and an “Uncommitted” option. Voters can only choose one of those 15, and vote for delegates pledged to that candidate. The number of delegates you can vote for depends on the number of delegates allocated to your congressional district. For example, CD-05 gets 5 elected convention delegates. So if you live in CD-05, here’s how it works.
You vote for the candidate of your choice and for that candidate’s delegates. If you can’t decide on a candidate and vote “Uncommitted” then you can only vote for “Uncommitted delegates. For example, in CD-05…..
- Vote for Elizabeth Warren – select up to 5 delegate candidates pledged to Warren.
- Vote for “Uncommitted” – select up to 5 delegate candidates pledged Uncommitted.
DO NOT VOTE FOR DELEGATES PLEDGED TO OTHER CANDIDATES – even if it’s your spouse, Mom, or best friend.
That’s straightforward, but it gets a little more complicated if your preferred presidential candidate doesn’t have a full slate (meaning at least as many delegate candidates as elected delegate slots available for the congressional district) or if he/she has no delegates on the ballot at all.
There are 4 remaining active candidates in the race who have few or no delegates in some/all congressional districts:
- Michael Bloomberg
- Tulsi Gabbard
- Amy Klobuchar
- Tom Steyer
We’ve been getting a lot of questions about what will happen if any of those candidates hit the “delegate threshold” of 15% or more. But first, everyone needs to understand how delegates are allocated on the local and state level.
How Alabama Convention Delegates are Allocated
There are 3 types of elected convention delegates:
- Elected Congressional District – 34 total delegates will be proportionally allocated at the CD level based on each candidate’s percentage of the vote within that CD.
- PLEO (Party Leaders & Elected Officials) – 7 total delegates are elected statewide by the State Democratic Executive Committee (SDEC). These are usually chosen from mayors, legislators, etc.
- At-Large Delegates – 11 delegates are elected at the state level by the SDEC. Those slots are allocated proportionally based on the percentage of the vote each candidate gets statewide. A candidate must get at least 15% of the vote to meet the delegate threshold.
National Democratic Party rules require 50/50 representation between male and female delegates, and also set diversity targets for youth, people with disabilities, ethnic minorities, etc.
This means that, on March 4, we’ll know who the 34 elected CD delegates are. The balance won’t be chosen until the next state party meeting, probably in April.
Here are the number of delegates allocated to each CD. The total number for each CD is calculated based on the percentage of the Democratic vote in the last general election.
- CD-01 – 5
- CD-02 – 5
- CD-03 – 4
- CD-04 – 3
- CD-05 – 5
- CD-06 – 4
- CD-07 – 8
View the sample ballot for your county at the Secretary of State’s Web site.
What Happens if a Candidate Hits 15%, but Has No Delegates on the Ballot?
If this happens to your candidate, don’t worry. He/she will still have delegates to represent you at the convention. You don’t get to vote for the delegates during the primary, but you will get the chance later. This section explains how that works.
Note: Don’t vote for a candidate and vote for “Uncommitted” delegates. Remember, those delegates are free to support whomever they like at the convention.
The Democratic National Committee requires each state to submit a “Delegate Selection Plan.” Alabama’s proposed plan covers just this situation. Here’s what will happen:
c. If a Presidential candidate qualifies to receive delegates, but failed to slate a sufficient number of delegate candidates, a meeting shall be convened with proper notice given to that candidate’s supporters in the designated Congressional District(s).
• Such meeting(s) will take place on March 28, 2020, at 10:00 A.M. at a location to be determined and publicized in all major area newspapers and on social media no later than 5:00 P.M., March 23, 2020.
• The deadline for such district level delegate candidates to file their statement of candidacy and pledge of support with the State Party by mail or in person at Party Headquarters, 501 Adams Ave., Montgomery, AL 36104, using forms to be made available at the State Party Headquarters or online at aldemocats.org is no later than 5:00 P.M. on March 26, 2020.
• The State Party will provide a list of district level delegate candidates to the respective Presidential candidate(s) by 9:00 P.M. on March 26, 2020.
• The Presidential candidate(s) will provide a list of approved district level delegate candidates to the State Party no later than 5:00 P.M. on March 27, 2020.
• At the March 28, 2020 meeting(s), the State Party will conduct an election process from among the candidate’s supporters to fill said slots.
• The State Party will certify the elected district level delegates to the Secretary of the Democratic National Committee no later than 5:00 P.M., March 30, 2020.
The major unanswered question here, IMO, is “who qualifies as a “supporter” of the candidate and gets to vote at the district-level meeting held March 28?”
Remember: the individual campaigns get to vet and approve the delegate candidates. Some may be rejected (that happened in 2016). Presumably, disappointed delegate candidates who were on the March 3 ballot and didn’t win can’t just jump into the race with another candidate and bring all their friends and family to vote for them at the district-level meeting. At least, not without the campaign’s approval.
So, if your preferred candidate does not have any declared delegate candidates on the March 3 ballot but you want a voice in choosing the delegates who will represent you (or if you want to be a delegate), clear your calendar for Saturday, March 28!