Sunday, March 15, 2020

South Carolina Democrats Call Audible on Delegate Selection with a Thumbs Up from the DNC

This is an important story out of South Carolina from the Post and Courier's Caitlin Byrd.

Democrats in the Palmetto state had a primary on February 29 to allocate national convention delegate slots to the Democratic candidates still in the race at that time. Both former Vice President Biden and Vermont Senator Sanders qualified for delegates then.

And while that went smoothly enough in South Carolina before the tipping point in the coronavirus evolution in the United States, other Democratic state parties and other state officials have had to make adjustments to how they are conducting the delegate process. Georgia and Louisiana shifted back the dates of their respective primaries and Wyoming Democrats eliminated the in-person portion of their caucus process. But all those changes more directly affect the delegate allocation process.

What is happening under the surface of all the remaining primaries and caucuses is the delegate selection process, the process of actually filling the delegate slots allocated to the various candidates with actual human beings pledged to the candidates who won more than 15 percent of the vote in states and congressional districts across the country.

Typically, those selection processes happen in tiers of caucuses and conventions parallel to and often after the "first determining step" primaries and caucuses. Precinct meetings feed into county conventions and those select and send delegates to district and state conventions in some states. All those meetings tend to entail gatherings of enough people that would raise concerns about further community spread in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

That means that state parties are scrambling to come up with alternate plans for the multi-level selection processes. And South Carolina Democrats offer a glimpse into not only how state parties are responding to the concerns, but how the national party is being flexible in allowing state parties to act in order to carry out their delegate selection plans. In the face of likely poor turnout, the DNC has granted the South Carolina Democratic Party the ability to conduct precinct reorganization meetings (on March 14) and county conventions (held between March 20 and April 7) to be conducted virtually via Facebook Live, Skype, FaceTime or some other type of (online or otherwise) conference call.

That national party flexibility is warranted given all of the fallout from coronavirus and that all of this builds toward the district and state conventions to be held simultaneously in South Carolina on May 30.

But to be clear, this is not an issue that is unique to the Palmetto state. The selection process will be affected across the country and is a story to watch as the Covid 19 concerns evolve. The problem may not be unique and the state party response may not be either.

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