Bernie Sanders’ supporters are taking aim at two of the four superdelegates who plan to vote for Hillary Clinton despite Sanders’ overwhelming victory in Utah in March. But, those efforts may not be legal.
A group of Sanders backers is proposing a bylaw change to the Utah Democratic Party’s constitution that would impose draconian sanctions on any superdelegate who does not vote for the winner of the popular vote. Party vice-chair Breanne Miller and Rep. Patrice Arent announced they would vote for Clinton even before Sanders entered the race. The other superdelegates, party chair Peter Corroon, and national committee member Wayne Holland will cast a ballot for Sanders at the national convention.
Those punitive measures include:
They must resign their position on the executive committee.
They would be banned from holding any position on the party’s executive committee in the future.
They would not be eligible to receive party support if they ran for office in the future, including financial or logistical.
That may seem harsh, but there’s a big problem with the proposal. Even if it passes, it could never go into effect because it violates national party rules.
Utah Democratic Party Executive Director Lauren Littlefield explains the party’s delegate selection plan, which was approved by the national party, says unpledged delegates cannot be forced to vote for a certain candidate, and the proposed bylaw change goes too far.
“We have a section in our Constitution that says any proposed bylaw that violates rules of DNC is null and void,” says Littlefield. “The delegate selection plan states superdelegates cannot be forced to take a position one way or another.”
In April, Sanders supporters successfully passed a nonbinding resolution at the Salt Lake County Democratic Convention calling on superdelegates to honor the popular vote and cast a ballot for Sanders. At the state convention, Sanders backers tried to amend the rules from the floor for a similar proposal and were rebuffed. After the group had cornered party chair Corroon for at least 30 minutes, he agreed to bring up the issue of superdelegates at the May central committee meeting.
Instead of the proposal put forward by the Sanders’ supporters, Democratic party officials are proposing an alternative, nonbinding plan that urges the DNC to reevaluate superdelegates moving forward and encourages current superdelegates to consider the popular vote in their states before casting their ballot at the convention. The resolution is similar to those passed by the Maine and Alaska Democratic Parties earlier this year.
The two proposals will be voted on by the 352 members of the central committee at a meeting next week in Salt Lake City.
Hillary Clinton has all but wrapped up the nomination. She needs less than 80 delegates to have the required 2,382 to win the nomination on the first ballot in Philadelphia in July.
Littlefield says she understands the frustration felt by the Sanders supporters, and the party wants to make sure they’re being heard.
“What I’m figuring out is a lot of these people are new to the process and want to be heard. It’s on the party to make sure that happens,” she said. “We have this contingent of newly engaged voters. We need as many boots on the ground to win in November.”
Next week’s meeting will be at Centro Civico Mexicano. Littlefield says she hopes both sides can find an acceptable solution.
“We need to focus on November instead of what’s going to happen in July. Our goal is to start the unification process and getting people on the same page.”
The central committee meeting will be Tuesday, May 31 at 7 pm.