early and often

Voting in Tomorrow’s Democratic Primary Will Be Needlessly Complicated!


Feeling … confused … cannot … vote.

You might think that tomorrow you’ll simply be voting for a presidential candidate, but that’s only true for Republicans. When Democrats enter the sacred voting booth, they’ll also be voting for which delegates to send to the party’s national convention. Here’s how it works: Beneath each candidate’s name you’ll see the names of five or six delegates (depending on the concentration of registered Democrats in each district). These delegates are active party members, often state or local elected officials, who have pledged their undying loyalty to their candidate. Unless they represent you or you’re a really big politics nerd, chances are that you won’t have heard of them. Do not panic. You’ll probably just want to vote for the delegates pledged to the candidate you prefer. If you’re the type of person that puts too much thought into things, you could, say, vote for three of Hillary’s delegates and three of Barack’s.

Not that it will really matter. The number of delegates awarded to each candidate in each congressional district is proportional to the popular vote in the district (so long as they reach a viability threshold of 15 percent). So if, for example, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton both win 50 percent of the popular vote in the Fifteenth Congressional District, which has six delegates up for grabs, they will be awarded three delegates each. And those delegates will be the three who received the most votes — after equal-gender apportionment is enforced, as required by state law. “In effect, there’s a separate primary between the delegates of each gender pledged to each candidate,” Douglas Kellner, co-chair of the New York State Board of Elections, tells us. “But I haven’t seen much campaigning because I guess people don’t really care that much. That’s why the Democrats would probably be better served if they just left the delegate page off the ballot and let the state committee pick the delegates.” Until that happens, you’ll be picking which semi-anonymous loyal party members will head to Denver for the national convention in August. Choose wisely! —Dan Amira

Voting in Tomorrow’s Democratic Primary Will Be Needlessly Complicated!