Republican front-runner Donald Trump continued to call the Republican delegate selection system rigged and corrupt Monday. He points to Colorado and Louisiana to make his case. In Colorado Ted Cruz received 100 percent of the state’s GOP delegates without allowing Republicans to vote. A similar scenario has unfolded in Louisiana, Georgia, and Wyoming where Trump won the primaries but Cruz was awarded most of the delegates. GOP chairman Reince Priebus denies that the system is rigged.
Trump charged that the Republican National Committee stacked the deck against him last week following the Republican State Convention in Colorado. Republicans in Colorado decided to forego a presidential poll at the Party’s caucuses. Instead, slates of uncommitted delegates were elected to go to the County Assemblies which in turn elected delegates to the State and Congressional District Conventions. When it was done, Senator Ted Cruz won all 35 of Colorado’s delegates. Trump and Kasich were shut out.
The “Stop Trump” movement is taking credit for these coups and they are now electing more delegates to the national convention that support Cruz than he won in the primaries. The goal is to deny Trump the nomination and allow the Convention to nominate Cruz or someone like Speaker Paul Ryan to be the Party’s standard bearer in November.
Some have also said the Democratic Party’s delegate system is rigged. On the whole, however, the delegates elected thus far are essentially proportional to the popular vote. In Colorado, for instance, Bernie Sanders received 58.9 percent of the vote at the precinct caucuses and after all the conventions were held, he was awarded 41 of the state’s 66 elected delegates.
Nationally, Hillary Clinton has been awarded 55 percent of all the delegates which is 14 more delegates than she would have had under a strict proportional allocation thus far. Out of 2,334 delegates elected, that is less than a one percent variation. This is among elected delegates only.
The area in which the Democratic process might be rigged is the existence of “Super Delegates.” These are elected officials, Party officers, and big donors who are appointed. When “Super Delegates” are thrown into the mix, the mix of Democratic delegates becomes skewed and no longer proportional to the votes of Democrats. The system of Super Delegates is tantamount to the Party establishment holding a thumb, or perhaps a whole hand, on the scale.
Hillary Clinton has commitments from 469 super delegates to 31 for Bernie Sanders. When you add those 469 delegates to her total of elected delegates, she has 1,752 delegates or nearly 200 more delegates than the 55 percent or 1,558 delegates she should be entitled to under a proportional delegate system. That is why Super Delegates skew the system and could arguably rig the system.
It is not just the math that is problematic; it is the psychological impact the large number of super delegates has on voters. The media continually reports Clinton’s delegate count including Super Delegates, who have not voted. It gives a false impression that Clinton has won more elected delegates than she has. It could discourage Sanders supporters because hourly they hear on the media that Sanders cannot win and the delegate count is cited as the reason.
The notion of Super Delegates is to give the Party establishment control of the nominating process. Party bosses do not wish to trust the voters with the final decision. It is the same concept that created the Electoral College, which actually picks the president. In reality, however, the Electoral College almost always follows the decision of the voters in their states. This is not the case with Super Delegates. In fact, in the states Bernie Sanders has won, nearly all the Super Delegates are thumbing their noses at the voters and endorsing Clinton.
At the Colorado State Convention Saturday, delegates chanted “change your vote” for several minutes before Senator Michael Bennet could accept his nomination for re-election. He is a Clinton Super Delegate whereas 60 percent of Colorado Democrats voted for Sanders. Other Super Delegates like Governor Hickenlooper and the three Democratic members of Congress would not even speak to the convention out of fear, or possibly embarrassment, of being told to “change their votes” as well. If they believe their decision is correct, why were they afraid to explain it to the voters?
Clearly both Parties are skewing the system. It is only the degree of the skew that is different. In a democracy, the people should be the final deciders. In America, however, the people are not the final deciders— in either Party.