Thursday, April 30, 2020

What's to Know About the Statewide Delegate Reallocation Process So Far? There's not much to go on, but...

Earlier on Thursday, April 30, both the Biden campaign and the suspended Sanders campaign jointly announced that both had struck a deal to allow Sanders to keep his statewide delegates. Under the Democratic National Committee delegate selection rules, any candidate no longer running for the nomination is to lose any statewide delegates -- at-large and PLEO delegates allocated based on statewide results -- to any candidates who are still in the race and originally received at least 15 percent of the vote statewide.

The agreement made between the two campaigns would continue to follow the letter of the rule. Delegates will still be allocated -- or reallocated as the case may be -- to Biden after a primary's or caucus's results come in. However, at the time of selection statewide delegate slots in a proportion corresponding to any qualified share of the vote Sanders received (presumably over 15 percent) would be filled by Sanders-aligned delegate candidates. That has the effect of keeping the overarching reallocation rule intact for this and future cycles, but places the onus on state parties to select delegates in accordance with the statewide results in their states' contests.

FHQ will have more on this in a later post, but for now wanted to more closely examine the reallocation process that has occurred so far. Admittedly, it does not amount to much and the coronavirus has decreased the activity even further. Under the original state-level delegate selection plans, nine states would have selected statewide delegates by the end of April. Those nine states would have made up just under 13 percent of the total statewide delegates. But again, the coronavirus pandemic has intervened, disrupting the plans state parties laid out and had approved by the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee. Of those nine states, five state parties in Alabama, Georgia, Illinois, Oklahoma and Tennessee shifted their statewide delegate selection to later dates in May and June.

That leaves just four states that have actually conducted delegate selection through the end of April.1 And those four states -- Colorado (April 18 virtual state convention), New Hampshire (April 25 virtual state convention), North Dakota (March 21 virtual state convention) and Utah (April 25 virtual state convention) -- comprise just more than 3 percent of the total number of statewide delegates allocated and selected.

That is not much of a sample and it certainly is not all that representative of how the overall reallocation process will work in other states. North Dakota, for example, held its party-run primary after the race had winnowed to just Biden and Sanders, and then selected statewide delegates before Sanders suspended his campaign on April 8. That meant that Sanders was allocated delegates and had those slots filled with Sanders-aligned supporters before the Vermont senator was out of the race. Those delegates cannot be reallocated.

Moreover, in New Hampshire where statewide delegates were selected this past weekend, there were no candidates still in the race who got more than 15 percent in the February 11 primary and thus no one to whom to reallocate any delegates. Those eight delegates were split among the candidates who originally cleared the 15 percent threshold but who are no longer in the race (Buttigieg, Klobuchar and Sanders). In other words, there was no explicit reallocation of delegates among Granite state Democrats either. It was impossible.

That leaves just Colorado and Utah where only 33 statewide delegates (roughly 2 percent of the total) were at stake. Both also saw multiple candidates clear 15 percent on Super Tuesday. Bloomberg and Warren joined Biden and Sanders over 15 percent in both contests. Colorado Democrats throughout the primary season winnowing process have provided a real-time reallocation tally of its statewide delegates. The party shows Biden as the sole qualifier for statewide delegates, but has yet to release a list of statewide delegates selected ("coming soon" according to this site).

Similarly, in Utah, Democrats there have yet to release a list of statewide delegates selected on April 25. Biden delegate candidates dominated the list of candidates, but it is unclear what the results were in the Beehive state and what the reallocation and selection there looks like.

The take home message here is that there has not been a lot of actual statewide delegate reallocation and/or selection yet. This deal between the Biden and Sanders campaigns, then, comes at a good time. Statewide delegate slots will be reallocated to Biden, but will be filled Sanders delegate candidates where the Vermont senator receives more than 15 percent statewide. And selection has yet to take place for nearly 97 percent of statewide delegates.

That process has yet to really get off the ground yet.

1 This excludes American Samoa and the Northern Mariana Islands which selected territory-wide delegates in March in conjunction with their caucuses. Between them, both territories account for just 12 total at-large delegates.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

2020 Democratic Delegate Allocation: OHIO


Election type: primary
Date: April 28
    [March 17 originally]
Number of delegates: 153 [29 at-large, 18 PLEOs, 89 congressional district, 17 automatic/superdelegates]
Allocation method: proportional statewide and at the congressional district level
Threshold to qualify for delegates: 15%
2016: proportional primary
Delegate selection plan

Changes since 2016
If one followed the 2016 series on the Republican process here at FHQ, then you may end up somewhat disappointed. The two national parties manage the presidential nomination process differently. The Republican National Committee is much less hands-on in regulating state and state party activity in the delegate selection process than the Democratic National Committee is. That leads to a lot of variation from state to state and from cycle to cycle on the Republican side. Meanwhile, the DNC is much more top down in its approach. Thresholds stay the same. It is a 15 percent barrier that candidates must cross in order to qualify for delegates. That is standard across all states. The allocation of delegates is roughly proportional. Again, that is applied to every state.

That does not mean there are no changes. The calendar has changed as have other facets of the process such as whether a state has a primary or a caucus.

The Ohio primary was moved back a week to third Tuesday in March by Republicans in the state legislature to preserve the winner-take-all allocation method the party used in 2016. That affected the Democratic contest as well. Once the coronavirus pandemic hit, however, Ohio became one of the first states to delay its primary. When the primary was postponed on primary day -- March 17 -- the governor and secretary of state both signaled a June 2 date. However, that was never a decision definitively handed down in any executive action. Instead, when the legislature got involved later in March 2020, the primary was not only set for April 28, but was made a vote-by-mail election. Those already in possession of an absentee ballot from the original March 17 primary could still submit those ballots. Every eligible voter was mailed a postcard in mid-April informing them of how they could participate in the primary.

[For more of the particulars on how the primary will work, see this earlier post about the bill the changed the election to vote-by-mail.]

Overall, the Democratic delegation changed by six delegates from 2016 to 2020. The number of pledged delegates decreased by seven (four district delegates, two at-large delegates and one PLEO delegate), but gained one superdelegate. On the whole, though, there were changes for Ohio Democrats since 2016 but most of them occurred in response to the coronavirus in 2020.

The standard 15 percent qualifying threshold applies both statewide and on the congressional district level.

Delegate allocation (at-large and PLEO delegates)
To win any at-large or PLEO (pledged Party Leader and Elected Officials) delegates a candidate must win 15 percent of the statewide vote. Only the votes of those candidates above the threshold will count for the purposes of the separate allocation of these two pools of delegates.

See New Hampshire synopsis for an example of how the delegate allocation math works for all categories of delegates.

Delegate allocation (congressional district delegates)
Ohio's 89 congressional district delegates are split across 16 congressional districts and have a variation of six delegates across districts from the measure of Democratic strength Ohio Democrats are using based on the results of the 2016 presidential election and 2018 gubernatorial election in the state. That method apportions delegates as follows...
CD1 - 6 delegates
CD2 - 5 delegates*
CD3 - 7 delegates*
CD4 - 4 delegates
CD5 - 5 delegates*
CD6 - 3 delegates*
CD7 - 4 delegates
CD8 - 4 delegates
CD9 - 6 delegates
CD10 - 6 delegates
CD11 - 9 delegates*
CD12 - 6 delegates
CD13 - 6 delegates
CD14 - 6 delegates
CD15 - 6 delegates
CD16 - 6 delegates

*Bear in mind that districts with odd numbers of national convention delegates are potentially important to winners (and those above the qualifying threshold) within those districts. Rounding up for an extra delegate initially requires less in those districts than in districts with even numbers of delegates.

Delegate allocation (automatic delegates/superdelegates)
Superdelegates are free to align with a candidate of their choice at a time of their choosing. While their support may be a signal to voters in their state (if an endorsement is made before voting in that state), superdelegates will only vote on the first ballot at the national convention if half of the total number of delegates -- pledged plus superdelegates -- have been pledged to one candidate. Otherwise, superdelegates are locked out of the voting unless 1) the convention adopts rules that allow them to vote or 2) the voting process extends to a second ballot. But then all delegates, not just superdelegates will be free to vote for any candidate.

[NOTE: All Democratic delegates are pledged and not bound to their candidates. They are to vote in good conscience for the candidate to whom they have been pledged, but technically do not have to. But they tend to because the candidates and their campaigns are involved in vetting and selecting their delegates through the various selection processes on the state level. Well, the good campaigns are anyway.]

All 89 of the district delegates were slated for each candidate on January 7 and how many of each candidate's delegate candidates are selected from those slates is based on the results of the April 28 primary. Filing for district delegate candidates closed on December 31, 2019. While a campaign's inability to file a full slate by then is often a signal of lack of organization, those same campaigns are not shut out of delegate positions if they are allocated them in the primary but do not have a full slate to fill them. In that case, the campaign would have an opportunity to fill those empty allocated slots at post-primary caucuses that were scheduled to be held on April 16 under the original delegate selection plan. However, the new plan, updated on April 8, 2020 (the day that Sanders suspended his campaign), indicates that the post-primary meetings are moot. The PLEO and then at-large delegates will be selected on June 6 by the State Executive Committee based on the statewide results in the primary. [Under the initial, pre-coronavirus plan, those statewide delegates were to have been selected on May 9.]

Importantly, if a candidate drops out of the race before the selection of statewide delegates, then any statewide delegates allocated to that candidate will be reallocated to the remaining candidates. If Candidate X is in the race in early June when the Ohio statewide delegate selection takes place but Candidate Y is not, then any statewide delegates allocated to Candidate Y in the April primary would be reallocated to Candidate X. [This same feature is not something that applies to district delegates.] This reallocation only applies if a candidate has fully dropped out.  This is less likely to be a factor with just Biden left as the only viable candidate in the race, but Sanders could still gain statewide delegates by finishing with more than 15 percent statewide.

Friday, April 17, 2020

Second Move's the Charm: Connecticut Shifts Its Presidential Primary to August

Connecticut on Tuesday became the third state in a little more than a week to move back its presidential primary for a second time in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Governor Ned Lamont (D) made the change via executive order and in concert with Secretary of State Denise Merrill (D).

Now, the Connecticut presidential primary will coincide with the primaries for state and local offices previously scheduled for August 11. While that will save the state the budgetary hit of a separate presidential primary election, an August primary comes with some problems. First, it obviously falls later than the national party rules allow, much later than any other state that has so far shifted its contest. But secondly, the new date of the presidential primary falls just days before the Democratic National Convention -- recently delayed as well -- is set to commence on August 17. That leaves little time for the results of the primary to be certified in order to allocated delegates. And that would be true even if Connecticut Democrats make plans to slate delegate candidates for presidential candidates ahead of the primary.

One option that was raised in the Hartford Courant in the paper's write up of the primary move is that if all candidates but one request that their names be removed from the ballot, then the contest could be cancelled. That would alleviate much of the pressure on the state and state party to complete the delegate selection process in the days before the national convention starts.

For now, however, the Connecticut presidential primary is part of a consolidated primary on August 11.

Governor Lamont's executive order will be archived here.

The Connecticut primary change has been added to the 2020 FHQ presidential primary calendar.

Related posts:
June 2 Presidential Primary Date Grows with Addition of Connecticut

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

On the Move Again: Louisiana Shifts Presidential Primary to July 11

Once, it seems, was not enough in the Pelican state.

At the request of Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin (R), Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards (D) on Tuesday, April 14, again issued a proclamation to move the presidential primary in the state back another three weeks. This follows the nearly three month delay the pair agreed to in mid-March as the coronavirus began to spread.

Unlike the majority of other states that have moved primaries and caucuses in the wake of the outbreak, Louisiana appears to be attempting to get enough out of the shadow of the pandemic to hold a primary election as close to usual as possible. The proclamation pushes back the early voting window to June 26-July 4, the deadline to request absentee ballots for most voters to July 7 and the deadline for those ballots to be submitted to July 10 (at 4:30pm). In-person voting remains in a state that requires an excuse (from a list of several reasons) in order to vote absentee. In other words, there is no clear effort to send all Louisiana voters an absentee application much less a primary ballot as has been the case in most of other states that have shifted to later dates during primary season.

That may or may not change in the future as the public health situation develops.

What can be said more definitively is that both the first and second new dates violate the national parties' rules on the timing of delegate selection events. The first fell late and the second even later and even closer to the (admittedly now-delayed Democratic) national conventions. Regardless of the later timing of the Democratic National Convention, Louisiana Democrats will still have to take this change before the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee for the panel's approval. Whether the later convention will help accommodate the later primary in the Pelican state will largely depend on how the state Democratic Party tweaks its delegate selection plan to meet the new later date.

The governor's proclamation is archived here.

UPDATE (4/28/20): The Louisiana state legislature passed legislation to provide for a series of coronavirus-related excuses in order to request an absentee ballot. The bill did not, however, remove the need for an excuse. Prospective absentee voters applying for ballot must choose from a list of excuses that includes having a preexisting condition that may put the voter at increased risk of contracting covid-19, being in quarantine, being advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine, experiencing symptoms of the coronavirus, or caring for someone who has the disease. How rigorous the county elections officials will be in processing and accepting those excuses remains to be seen. But the move does provide marginally more relief to voters seeking a safer alternative to vote (even if Republicans in the state legislature scuttled the governor and secretary of state's plans to be more accommodating with vote-by-mail options).

The covid-related absentee application is archived here.

The Louisiana primary date has been changed on the 2020 FHQ presidential primary calendar.

Related post:
Louisiana Shifts Presidential Primary Back to June 20 Amid Rising Coronavirus Concerns

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Georgia Presidential Primary Pushed Back Another Three Weeks to June 9

A little more than a week after the chorus calling on a new and later date for the Georgia primary crescendoed, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R) relented and shifted the primary back another three weeks. But the move was motivated less by pressure from some Georgia Republicans to move and more by Governor Kemp's (R) decision to extend the coronavirus-related state of emergency to May 13. That extension overlapped with early voting in the May 19 primary and forced the change.

That the primary ended up on June 9 and not June 23 like Speaker of the House Ralston (R) had suggested will save some heartache for the two political parties in the state. The former date will keep Georgia compliant with both national parties' rules on the timing of primaries and caucuses and save the parties from any penalties.

The Georgia primary has been moved back to June 9 on the 2020 FHQ presidential primary calendar.

Related Posts:
Chorus for an Even Later Georgia Presidential Primary Grows

Georgia House Speaker Calls for Another Presidential Primary Move in the Peach State

Georgia Postpones Presidential Primary, Consolidates with May Primaries

Georgia Will Send Absentee Request Forms to All Active Voters for May 19 Primary

Georgia House Speaker Calls for Another Presidential Primary Move in the Peach State

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Murphy's Order Moves New Jersey Presidential Primary Back to July 7

Citing the choice Wisconsin primary voters had to make between voting and their own health a day earlier, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy (D) on Wednesday, April 8 issued an executive order moving the primary in the Garden state from June 2 back five weeks to July 7. 

While the move may help avoid any overlap between in-person voting and the peak of the coronavirus, the new date does run afoul of national party rules on the timing of primaries and caucuses by a full four weeks. The New Jersey Democratic Party will have to bring that change before the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee in particular for the national party's approval on any likely waiver request. 

But this is a big one. It is one thing for a state to push into late June, but another to move all the way into July. New Jersey Democrats' cause will undoubtedly be helped out to some degree by the DNC decision to shift the national convention from July to August.

The New Jersey change is now reflected on the 2020 FHQ presidential primary calendar.

UPDATE (4/13/20): The New Jersey state legislature unanimously passed legislation backing Governor Murphy's executive order to push the primary back 35 days to July 7.

UPDATE (5/15/20): Governor Murphy issued another executive order to provide vote-by-mail ballots to every registered voter in New Jersey in an effort to further protect public health amid the threat of the coronavirus. There will still be an in-person option, but there will be a reduced number of polling locations on primary day, July 7. As long as the ballots are postmarked on or before July 7, then they will be accepted and counted as late as July 14. 

Monday, April 6, 2020

UPDATED: US Supreme Court Decision Returns April 7 Absentee Deadline to Wisconsin Primary

Update (4/6/20 -- 7:30pm):
The US Supreme Court brought the Wisconsin presidential primary and spring election nearly back to square one on Monday evening, April 6. On the eve of the primary, the Court in a 5-4 decision reversed a US appeals court decision to uphold last week's district court ruling extending both the absentee request window and ballot deadline. The request window extension is now the only action taken not to be reversed. The deadline now, following the Supreme Court decision, will revert to tomorrow, Tuesday, April 7, the original primary day and deadline for absentee ballots to be due.

Update (4/6/20 -- 7pm):

Originally updated under the title: "UPDATED: Wisconsin Supreme Court Reverses Evers's Executive Order to Suspend In-Person Voting"

The Wisconsin Supreme Court on Monday, April 6 reversed Governor Evers's executive order from earlier in the day. That order would have suspended in-person voting in the April 7 presidential primary and spring election and delayed it until June 9. But a challenge was nearly immediately brought by Republican leaders in the state legislature to the state Supreme Court. And the court in a vote along ideological lines decided 4-2 to reinstate in-person voting in an election that will affect membership on the court itself.

This reverts the process to one with in-person voting on April 7 in a limited number of locations with a limited number of poll workers (but with help from the national guard) and absentee voting that will end on Monday, April 13.

Originally written under the title: "Governor Evers Executive Order Suspends In-Person Voting in Wisconsin Until June 9"

Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers (D) on Monday, April 6, issued executive order 74, suspending in-person voting on the eve of the presidential primary and spring election in the Badger state.

This is another step in the back and forth among not only the executive and legislative branches in the state of Wisconsin but the federal judiciary as well. Just within the last few days, Evers called a special session of the state legislature to shift to an all-mail vote (in which ballots would be due on May 19), the Republican-controlled state legislature respond by gaveling the Saturday session in and almost immediately out (rejecting those changes), a federal district court judge extend the absentee request window and deadline and an appeals court rejected challenges to that.

The order from Evers also calls another special session of the legislature for primary day, April 7 to consider the shift to June 9. Not only is in-person voting moved to June 9, but absentee ballot requests are allowed to continue as they customarily do in Wisconsin until the Thursday before the election date; Thursday, June 4 in this case.

Now, there are a couple of different avenues that this winding tale can take from here in the Badger state. The most immediate option is the one already signaled by Republican leaders in the legislature: challenge the executive order in state court. This brings in the state-level judiciary. If that challenge ultimately reverses the April 6 executive order, then the election will proceed as planned tomorrow with in-person voting under the threat of the coronavirus pandemic.

However, if that challenge is rejected by the state supreme court, then the next twist will likely be either in the federal courts or with the state legislature in an April 7 special session. While Evers's order pushes the primary back to June 9, the state legislature still retains the ability to alter that. But at that point, Republicans in control -- when the special session commences at 2pm on Tuesday -- would no longer have April 7 as an option. And they would additionally have to consider an Evers veto of any date that does not provide Wisconsin voters and poll workers enough cover from the coronavirus threat.

For Democrats in the Badger state, this move does potentially introduce a time crunch into the delegate selection process. April county conventions and subsequent April and May district conventions (at which district delegates to the national convention were to have been chosen) have already been cancelled. The state convention on June 12-13 is still in the works, but that comes just a few days after a hypothetical June 9 primary conclusion. District delegates, as a back up, could be chosen at a state convention divided into district caucuses. Fortunately for Wisconsin Democrats, their delegate selection plan called for the Party Administrative Committee to select at-large and PLEO delegates on June 12, rather than the state convention itself. That can still occur, but would, again, fall just a few days after a June 9 primary. Of course, Wisconsin Democrats could shift that committee meeting to a slightly later date if necessary and that would likely be easier than moving an entire state convention -- either to a different date or to a remote format -- would be.

But the bottom line is that as long as the primary date remains uncertain, so too, does the path by which the delegate selection process will be completed.

Governor Evers's executive order suspending April 7 in-person voting is archived here.

Related Posts:
4/3/20: Federal Judge Pushes Absentee Deadline Back to April 13 for Wisconsin Primary

Saturday, April 4, 2020

Maryland Board of Elections Lands on Predominantly Vote-By-Mail Plan for June 2 Primary

With a Friday, April 3 deadline to report back to Governor Hogan's executive order request to plan for a June 2 presidential primary, the Maryland Board of Elections arrived at a series of conclusions after a week of back and forth.

After first signaling that it would recommend an all-mail ballot primary, the Board walked that back after it was pressured by voting rights and disabilities advocates. Voting access for those who need assistance casting a ballot or who do not receive ballots in the mail became the main hang up for those lobbying the Board and ultimately the Board itself.

Maryland will now follow the rough model outlined by the secretary of state in Rhode Island: providing for a "predominantly" vote-by-mail plan for the June 2 primary. The plan in the Old Line state now has a bit more meat on the bones. While the recommendation continues to call for all Maryland voters to receive a primary ballot, the state will now open at least one voting location (and no more than four) in each county. Those sites will only be opened for voting on primary day itself. Voters will additionally have the option of mailing their ballots back to the county or dropping them off in drop boxes at each of the county voting locations set up for in-person voting on June 2.

The recommendation now heads to Governor Hogan for his consideration under the guidelines in the executive order. He will have to sign off on the changes before they take effect.

Related Posts:
Maryland Joins States Pushing Back Presidential Primaries on the Calendar

Maryland Board of Elections Will Recommend an All Vote-By-Mail Presidential Primary for June 2

Friday, April 3, 2020

Federal Judge Pushes Absentee Deadline Back to April 13 for Wisconsin Primary

In all the flurry of activity during the last three weeks shaking up the primary calendar, most of the decisions to move delegate selection events have either come from the executive and/or legislative branches. But in Wisconsin the judicial branch has gotten involved in the decision making as well.

Given the lack of action on that front from either the executive or legislative branches in the Badger state, a federal judge first ordered on Thursday, April 2 that the deadline to request absentee ballots be extended a day to Friday, April 3 and the deadline to submit those ballots pushed back to Monday, April 13. Then, in the face of some backlash from elections administrators in Wisconsin, the same judge -- US District Court Judge William Conley -- ordered that no results from in-person voting in the April 7 primary election be released until after the absentee ballots are due at 4pm on April 13.

This effectively moves the Wisconsin primary back six days on the 2020 presidential primary calendar. The contest there becomes like the former April 4 party-run primary states -- Alaska, Hawaii and Wyoming -- by shifting more toward vote-by-mail-focused elections with later deadlines.

None of this fundamentally affects the delegate selection process Democrats in the Badger state has laid out for the 2020 cycle. The coronavirus had already disrupted those plans. Both April 26 county conventions and the late April and early May district conventions have already been cancelled. Alternative plans for those events have not been made public, but would be necessary to building toward the state convention that is still scheduled at this time for June 12-13. In other words, while this court decision has no impact on the delegate selection process for Wisconsin Democrats, the coronavirus has.

The Wisconsin primary change has been added to the 2020 FHQ presidential primary calendar.

Related Posts:
4/6/20: Governor Evers Executive Order Suspends In-Person Voting Until June 9

DC Board of Elections Urging All District Voters to Request Absentee Ballots for June 2 Primary

As the calendar flipped from March to April, marking two months until the last major multi-state wave of primaries and caucuses, the Washington, DC Board of Elections began encouraging voters in the district to request absentee ballots ahead of the June 2 primary there.

This is a less proactive approach to alternative methods of voting in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Some states like Maryland have tentatively opted to mail all voters an absentee ballot, while other states like Nebraska and West Virginia have decided to mail application for absentee ballots to active voters. The DC encouragement is much less far-reaching at this point. That could change over time as June 2 approaches and the coronavirus situation evolves.

DC Board of Elections vote-by-mail encouragement archived here.

Puerto Rico Democrats Indefinitely Postpone Presidential Primary

Puerto Rico Democratic Party President Charles Rodriguez on Thursday, April 2 announced that the newly scheduled April 26 presidential primary would be delayed indefinitely amid the growing threat posed by the coronavirus.

Late last month legislation to move the island territory's Democratic primary from the end of March to the end of April passed and was signed into law. But layered into that bill was a contingency to shift the primary later on the calendar if there was a need. The state elections commission was given the authority to make the change in consultation with the Democratic Party in Puerto Rico.

And it was that provision of the new law that was triggered by Rodriguez on Thursday, the same day that the Democratic National Convention was pushed back by more than a month. While that national party change may not exactly provide state-level actors like those in Puerto Rico some time, it does provide them some cover. And Puerto Rico Democrats are taking advantage of that. The indefinite postponement leaves hanging out there the scheduling of an election that was to have originally taken place on Sunday, March 29. But the mechanism in the new law allows the territorial party some time to assess the situation -- both with the pandemic and any additional decisions the national party makes on how it will treat states with primaries too late under national party rules -- and set a date that best protects public health and the Puerto Rico delegation to the national convention.

FHQ has moved the Puerto Rico Democratic primary to "no date" on the 2020 presidential primary calendar.

Related Posts:
3/25/20: Governor Vazquez's Signature Pushes Puerto Rico Democratic Presidential Primary Back a Month

3/19/20: Puerto Rico Legislation Would Shift Presidential Primary Back to April or Beyond

3/16/20: Puerto Rico Democrats Signal Presidential Primary Date Change

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Democrats Delay National Convention by Five Weeks

The Democratic National Committee on Thursday, April 2 opted to push back the start of the national convention in Milwaukee from July 13 to August 17 amid increasing time constraints, not to mention public health issues, place on the party over the coronavirus pandemic.

Now the Democratic convention will begin just a week before the Republican National Convention in Charlotte. That reverts the convention timing to the model that has been in place since the 2008 cycle.  2020 was to be a break in that one-week-apart model and a return to the month-apart model for national convention timing that had dominated the post-reform era. However, the coronavirus has changed those plans.

The five week delay in the convention is consistent with the movement of primaries that has occurred on the state level in the wake of the outbreak. Among the states that have shifted delegate selection events back, they have moved on average almost 38 days, a little more than five weeks. The nearly equivalent move by the national convention will allow those states and others stuck between a rock and a hard place in completing their delegate selection in a timely and efficient manner ahead of the new convention's commencement.

What this leaves unanswered is how the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee will handle states that have moved beyond the June 9 deadline by which states are to have held their primaries and caucuses under DNC rules. The rules call for a 50 percent reduction in a state's delegation as a penalty. But the convention move signals even more that the party is more likely than not to grant some latitude to state parties on this front.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Governor Justice's Executive Order Sends West Virginia Primary Back a Month to June 9

Governor Jim Justice (R) issued an executive order on Wednesday, April 1 moving the West Virginia primary from May 19 to June 9. The four week delay was forced by the growing threat of the coronavirus pandemic. Statewide states of emergency and stay-at-home orders are fundamentally reshaping how state governments (and state parties in some cases) are administering elections.

Already the state of West Virginia has come to the aid of county-level elections officials, promising to help with funding the distribution of absentee vote-by-mail applications for all registered voters in the Mountain state. That will still apply even now that the primary has been shifted back into June. But while West Virginia voters will have the option of voting absentee by mail, in-person early and in-person election day voting will remain available.

The West Virginia primary change has been added to the 2020 FHQ presidential primary calendar. The state now joins a growing list of states that have moved their nomination contests in the wake of the escalating pandemic. It is also another May state to pull up the tent stakes and move from a rapidly clearing out month for June or later dates on the calendar.

Governor Justice's executive order moving the primary to June 9 will be archived here.

Related Post:
West Virginia Secretary of State Lays the Groundwork for a Predominantly Vote-By-Mail Primary on May 12

Chorus for an Even Later Georgia Presidential Primary Grows

Just last week, Georgia state House Speaker David Ralston (R) called on Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to consider again pushing back the presidential primary (now consolidated with primaries for other offices) in the Peach state.

Now, that call has grown in number and volume. On Tuesday, March 31 in a letter to Raffensperger, the 11 members of the Republican Georgia delegation to Congress mostly echoed Ralston. That is "mostly echoed" because while the Georgia Republicans from Congress urged a date later than May 19 for the Peach state primary, the group did not specify a date as Ralston did. Perhaps, that lack of specificity on the date is attributable to the fact that Ralston's proposed new date -- June 23 -- would violate the national parties' rules on the timing of primaries and caucuses. A June 23 primary -- like those now in Kentucky and New York -- would be too late.

This may explain why the five Democrats in the Georgia congressional delegation did not sign on to the letter as well. If the end goal is a June 23 primary, then it would cost Georgia Democrats half of their delegation (should the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee stick with the June 9 deadline and its attendant penalty).

But time will tell if, in fact, June 23 is the new target date for the Georgia primary.

This renewed call for an even later primary comes after Raffensperger moved the presidential primary to May 19 to be held concurrently with the primaries for other offices and after he also opted to mail all registered Georgia voters an absentee ballot application for the election.

UPDATE: Secretary Raffensperger responded to the growing number of voices calling for an even later Georgia primary by basically deferring to the Georgia General Assembly and the governor to make the change:
"'If the General Assembly and the Governor wants [sic] to move the primary to June or July, we will support them in that too,' said Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger."
The Georgia secretary of state was ceded the power to set the date of the presidential primary by the General Assembly and the governor in 2011. While that includes the ability to shift (and apparently re-shift) the presidential primary, it does not include the power to reschedule the primaries for other offices to which the presidential primary is now tethered.

The letter to Raffensperger will be archived here.

Related Posts:
Georgia Postpones Presidential Primary, Consolidates with May Primaries

Georgia Will Send Absentee Request Forms to All Active Voters for May 19 Primary

Georgia House Speaker Calls for Another Presidential Primary Move in the Peach State