2020 nomination & election process

Written by  //  April 17, 2020  //  Politics, U.S.  //  Comments Off on 2020 nomination & election process

Voting by mail in the spotlight as U.S. Congress debates how to secure November elections
(Reuters) – Congress is scrambling for ways to safeguard the Nov. 3 U.S. elections amid the coronavirus pandemic, with a partisan fight shaping up over a Democratic proposal to require states to offer the option of voting by mail.
Democrats have said election procedures will need to change this year because many voters will be reluctant to stand in long lines or enter crowded polling sites for fear of infection. In recent years, Democrats also have accused Republicans of pursuing policies in some states to make voting more difficult in a bid to disenfranchise Democratic-leaning voters.
Congressional Democrats are pushing for additional funding for election aid to states in the next round of coronavirus-response legislation expected to be crafted by lawmakers in the coming weeks.
A Texas court battle could decide if millions are disenfranchised during the pandemic
The state attorney general is threatening criminal prosecutions against pro-voting activists.
(Vox) Because older voters tend to favor Republican candidates, Texas’s odd legal regime, where older voters may have an easy time voting from home while younger voters could struggle to obtain a ballot, could provide a significant unfair advantage to Republicans if the coronavirus pandemic still requires most Texans to remain at home on Election Day.

14 April
Election debacle backfires on Wisconsin Republicans
Republicans effectively dared voters to put themselves at risk. The party apparently didn’t realize that quite a few voters were willing to do exactly that.
GOP officials believed holding a hazardous election was necessary in order to ensure a Republican victory in a state Supreme Court election. A conservative justice was on the ballot, and if he prevailed, it would likely help the party with upcoming electoral schemes, ranging from voter purges to district gerrymandering. It’s why Donald Trump repeatedly tried to rally support for the conservative incumbent.
Dane County Circuit Judge Jill Karofsky won the race for Wisconsin Supreme Court. …Karofsky’s victory marked the first time in a dozen years that a Supreme Court challenger beat an incumbent — and just the second time in more than half a century. Her win over Justice Daniel Kelly will shift conservative control of the court from 5-2 to 4-3.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren Calls For National Voting Overhaul
(NPR) It’s a massive set of proposals that shows where the more liberal section of the Democratic Party wants to take Democracy, even if Republican lawmakers in the Senate and the White House have made it clear that such changes are political non-starters.
The proposed plan calls for $4 billion in new elections funding, 30 days of required early voting, and a mail-in-ballot to be sent to every registered voter in the country. It was published Tuesday morning, the same day as the controversial Wisconsin primary, which saw thousands of voters disregarding health guidance to wait in line at polling stations.
Republicans, and some Democrats at the state level, have long opposed federal mandates on voting administration, arguing that it’s up to the states to run their own elections. But Sen. Warren disagrees; the voting plan she released while she was still running for president for instance called for a “uniform federal ballot” and federal voting machines. (7 April)

7 April
They Turned Out to Vote in Wisconsin During a Health Crisis. Here’s Why.
Voters in Milwaukee and across the state braved long lines and a risk of illness. Many said they wanted their voices to be heard. But for some, the potential health risk was too great.
Wisconsin’s election nightmare is a preview of what could happen in November
By Paul Waldman
Because of the state’s Republicans and the intercession of the Supreme Court, not only are thousands of Americans being disenfranchised, thousands more are risking their health and perhaps their very lives to go to polls in an election that should never have taken place.
This is a very ominous sign for what will happen in November. There will be battles across the country over how the upcoming election will be conducted — whether it will be fair, whether everyone will have access to the ballot and whether we’ll be able to trust the result.
And the Supreme Court will be there to put a thumb on the scales for the Republican Party.
Wisconsin’s debacle may be the most infuriating of the coronavirus failures
Ruth Marcus
(WaPo) Was it really a coincidence that Republican-backed justices in Wisconsin and Republican-nominated justices on the U.S. Supreme Court all sided against giving voters more time to cast ballots? Was it really a coincidence that their grudging interpretations of the law aligned with Republicans’ political interests?
It is impossible to reconcile the logic of holding an in-person election with a stay-at-home order in place, and yet that is what happened Tuesday, as long lines of would-be voters risked their health to vote. This is a choice that no one should be forced to make. But conservative justices, on the Wisconsin Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court, left many would-be Wisconsin voters no option between danger and disenfranchisement.
First, the Wisconsin Supreme Court blocked Democratic Gov. Tony Evers’s last-minute order suspending in-person voting and moving the deadline for mail-in ballots to June 9. “I cannot in good conscience stand by and do nothing,” said Evers, who had been unable to persuade the Republican-controlled state legislature to let the state send absentee ballots to all voters.

How Many Delegates Do The 2020 Democratic Presidential Candidates Have?
National Popular Vote Interstate Compact

Democratic Superdelegate Rule Changes for 2020 Unpledged delegates, better known as superdelegates* will make up about 16% of Democratic Party delegates in 2020. These party insiders are part of each state’s delegation, but are not committed to vote based on the outcome of the state’s primary or caucus. Superdelegates will no longer vote on the first ballot at the convention unless there is no doubt about the outcome. To win on the first ballot, the frontrunner must secure the majority of pledged delegates available during the nominating contests (primary and caucus) leading up to the Democratic Convention. … All delegates become unpledged, with an estimated 771 superdelegate votes coming into play if the convention is contested (i.e., more than one ballot is needed to select a nominee). For those subsequent ballots, a majority of all 4,750 delegates (2,375.5) will be needed to secure the nomination. Given the large field, front-loaded calendar and the party’s proportional allocation process, a contested convention can’t be ruled out.

16-17 March
Biden Sweeps Three States and Takes Commanding Lead, as Virus Reshapes American Politics
With a broad coalition, Joseph R. Biden Jr. defeated Bernie Sanders in Florida, Illinois and Arizona, in a rout that could add to pressure on Mr. Sanders to end his campaign.
(NYT) The routs in Florida and Illinois, two of the biggest prizes on the national map, represented both a vote of confidence in Mr. Biden from most Democrats, and a blunt rejection of Mr. Sanders’s candidacy by the kind of large, diverse states he would have needed to capture to broaden his appeal beyond the ideological left.
Democratic primaries live updates: Biden wins Florida primary
(WaPo) The Sunshine State awards 219 delegates. In Florida, as in all of the Democratic primary states, delegates are awarded proportionally rather than winner-take-all, meaning that Sanders will probably win a share of the state’s total.
What To Expect in the Four March 17 Presidential Primaries
By Ed Kilgore
(New York) The four Democratic presidential primaries scheduled for Tuesday, March 17, have been overshadowed by two sweeping developments. The first was Joe Biden’s surge into what many consider a virtually insurmountable lead over Bernie Sanders in a (suddenly) two-candidate race. The second is a COVID-19 pandemic that has driven the presidential contest out of the headlines and into the back of the minds (at best) of most Americans and that has made showing up at the polls one of many activities deemed potentially perilous to one’s health and life.
Arizona, Florida, and Illinois will vote on March 17, and the balloting is the first since the coronavirus crisis really exploded into a national phenomenon, forcing even Donald Trump out of denial. Four later states in the primary calendar (Louisiana , Georgia, Kentucky and Maryland) have already delayed their presidential nominating contests, and initially it was thought it was really too late for the March 17 states to put off voting. But Ohio, amidst legal chaos, appears to have postponed its schedule March 17 primary indefinitely. All four, significantly, are states with no-excuse absentee balloting available, along with in-person early voting opportunities that might reduce crowded conditions on election day. But election officials in all four are acutely aware that they will be in the spotlight as voters do or don’t vote.
Arizona is a heavy vote-by-mail state, providing voters the option of permanently registering to automatically receive mail ballots, and upwards of 80 percent choose to vote remotely. This should shield that state from the worst Primary Day fears (and crowds). In Florida, 632,000 registered Democrats have already voted by mail for the March 17 primary (compared to a total of 520,000 in 2016), with another 487,000 ballots still out there. Another 438,000 have already voted in person (compared to a total of 369,000 in 2016). Total Democratic voting four years ago was 1.69 million, so it looks like early voting is going to be robust this time around.
In Illinois, the deadline for requesting mail ballots has been extended (though ballots must be received by Primary Day, by mail or drop-box), and in Chicago, at least, requests for mail ballots have tripled as compared to 2016, and total early voting has occurred at record levels. That’s good, because polling places are shrinking owing to poll-worker shortages and the closure of some precincts in or near particularly vulnerable elements of the electorate (e.g., senior residential facilities).

10 March
March 10 Primary
What time (EST) do the polls close and how many delegates are at stake?
Mississippi — 8 p.m. — 36 delegates
Missouri — 8 p.m. — 68 delegates
North Dakota — 8 p.m. — 14 delegates
Michigan — 9 p.m. — 125 delegates
Idaho — (most polls at) 10 p.m. — 20 delegates
Washington — 11 p.m. — 86 delegates

4 March
‘Absolutely Unconscionable’: Hours-long Lines to Vote in Texas on Super Tuesday ‘Point to a Bigger Systemic Problem’
“That problem, to put it bluntly, is that the people in power in state government have no interest in making it easier for Texans to vote.”
(Common Dreams) There were similar reports of long lines in heavily Democratic cities across the state, including Austin, Dallas, and San Antonio. While voters in California also faced delays due to a shortage of polling locations and problems with new voting technology, the longest waits took place in Texas, particularly in Houston’s Harris County, where the population is 43% Latino and 19% black.
Local election officials seemed unprepared for the high turnout, which was up 40% in the county compared to the 2016 Democratic primary. There were only six poll workers at the Texas Southern location, according to NBC News, where 10,000 students are enrolled. And the polling site had only 10 voting machines, which were 20 years old. Five of them broke down for part of the night, exacerbating the long lines. With many local races, Texas voters faced a very long ballot that took a long time to fill out.
Texas’ troubles weren’t just a case of bureaucratic incompetence or aging election infrastructure: The long lines were also by design.

Texas Is Super Tuesday’s Second-Biggest Prize. It’s Also a Voting-Rights Nightmare.
(New York)  Turnout in the state’s last two elections has hovered between 52 and 46 percent — which is low, even by American standards. A new report from the Guardian offers a compelling potential explanation. Citing data from the Leadership Conference Education Fund, a civil-rights group, reporters found that 750 polling sites had been shuttered statewide since 2012, the most of any southern state.

From the Guardian:

The analysis finds that the 50 counties that gained the most Black and Latinx residents between 2012 and 2018 closed 542 polling sites, compared to just 34 closures in the 50 counties that have gained the fewest black and Latinx residents. This is despite the fact that the population in the former group of counties has risen by 2.5 million people, whereas in the latter category the total population has fallen by over 13,000.

Observers of how disputes over ballot access have played out this past decade will notice echoes of a national pattern. In 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The major accomplishment of Shelby County v. Holder was to eliminate the “preclearance” requirement — the legal mandate that some states and jurisdictions with histories of racist voter suppression, including Texas, must get federal approval before changing their election laws. This shift gave Republicans carte blanche to reshape the electorate to their liking. Measures that disadvantaged nonwhite voters and, by extension, Democratic candidates became the norm. Discriminatory voter-ID laws — which, for example, permit handgun licensees but not student-ID holders to vote in Texas, a state where 80 percent of the former are white and more than half of the latter are not — supplement aggressive and possibly illegal voter-roll purges. According to the Guardian, the consolidation of Texas’s polling [s]ites into so-called voting centers — which, in theory, centralize ballot access so people can vote close to their jobs and avoid invalidating their votes by visiting the wrong location — is convenient for some and has bipartisan champions. But it also lets jurisdictions reduce the number of polling sites by half, a convenient bulwark against the state’s growing nonwhite population.

Super Tuesday is the election day early in a United States presidential primary season (February or March) when the greatest number of U.S. states hold primary elections and caucuses. More delegates to the presidential nominating conventions can be won on Super Tuesday than on any other single day.
Super Tuesday 2020 will be on March 3: Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, and Virginia will all hold their presidential primaries. American Samoa will have its caucus that day; as a territory it will not participate in the general election in November. The Democrats Abroad primary, for Democrats living outside of the United States, will also begin voting on March 3, and conclude on March 10. 1,357 of the 3,979 pledged delegates to be awarded to the candidates in the Democratic primaries will be allotted on Super Tuesday. 1,617 total delegates could be awarded to the candidates. This is driven in large part by the two most populous states in the country, California and Texas, allotting 415 and 228 delegates respectively.
Who’s winning the delegate race?
How close each candidate is to becoming the nominee who will face Donald Trump.
(Politico) The Democratic presidential candidates say they’re fighting for votes. But they’re really fighting for pledged delegates — the metric that decides who wins the nomination at the Democratic National Convention in July.
Delegate counts usually track closely with the popular vote, but they don’t precisely match. If candidates receive at least 15 percent of the popular vote in a given state, they are awarded delegates proportional to the votes. But if they miss that mark, they get nothing.

The Democratic Party’s presidential delegate process
How and when candidates will amass delegates in 2020
By Terri Rupar Ashlyn Still, Reuben Fischer-Baum

(NYT) Pre Super Tuesday delegate count: Sanders 60; Biden 53; Buttigieg 26; Warren 8; Klobuchar 7

Note: One delegate in South Carolina remains unallocated. See South Carolina results here
To become the Democratic Party’s nominee, a candidate needs to win 1,991 of the party’s delegates. Here’s how that happens.

27 February
Democratic Leaders Willing to Risk Party Damage to Stop Bernie Sanders
Interviews with dozens of Democratic Party officials, including 93 superdelegates, found overwhelming opposition to handing Mr. Sanders the nomination if he fell short of a majority of delegates.
(NYT) House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senator Chuck Schumer, the minority leader, hear constant warnings from allies about congressional losses in November if the party nominates Bernie Sanders for president. Democratic House members share their Sanders fears on text-messaging chains. Bill Clinton, in calls with old friends, vents about the party getting wiped out in the general election.

22 February
Sanders cements Democratic front-runner status with resounding Nevada caucuses win
(AP via CBC) Vermont senator successfully rallied his fiercely loyal base, Latino community
19 February
Nevada and South Carolina vote this month on an all-white field of top contenders.
Adam Harris, staff writer at The Atlantic, covers the 2020 campaign.
(The Atlantic Magazine) At a Democratic-debate watch party in Manchester, New Hampshire, earlier this month, a voter (who was leaning toward Elizabeth Warren) confided in me that he wished Cory Booker—who, cash-strapped, dropped out before the Iowa caucus—was still in the race. In the same sorry category is Kamala Harris, whose once-promising campaign ended in December. Deval Patrick ended his (brief) candidacy after the New Hampshire primary; so did Andrew Yang.
Now, as a more diverse crop of voters in Nevada and South Carolina prepare to decide whom they want as the Democratic nominee, a lily-white field of viable candidates will need to make explicit appeals to black and Latino voters.
Following a strong debate performance in Nevada and an endorsement from prominent black activists, Elizabeth Warren is hoping her race-conscious, policy-heavy approach will make a difference with voters. Joe Biden’s strongest base of support, black voters, has taken a second look at other candidates (he needs a strong showing in both states to have any path to the nomination). Notably, Bernie Sanders and Tom Steyer have seen increases in black support in South Carolina.
But waiting in the wings of Super Tuesday states is a billion-dollar bogeyman who has shot up in the polls to become the front-runner in several states, and the shadow of a contested convention.

12 February
Virginia House passes bill to award electoral votes to whoever wins the popular vote
(The Hill) The measure, also known as House Bill 177, passed the legislative chamber in a 51-46 vote on Tuesday after clearing the body’s Privileges and Elections Committee in a vote last week.
If the legislation is passed by the Senate, where Democrats also hold control, and signed into law by the governor, Virginia would subsequently be entered into the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact.
“Under the compact, Virginia agrees to award its electoral votes to the presidential ticket that receives the most popular votes in all 50 states and the District of Columbia,” a bill summary states. “The compact goes into effect when states cumulatively possessing a majority of the electoral votes have joined the compact.”
So far, only 15 states and Washington, D.C., have entered the compact, according to National Popular Vote, a nonprofit group tracking the status of states on the issue. A group of states possessing 74 electoral votes would need to join the agreement in order for the compact to take effect.

John Cassidy: The New Hampshire Results Signal a Long Nationwide Democratic Battle
With 1,990 pledged delegates required to clinch the Democratic nomination, the candidates have barely crossed the starting line. To win, Sanders, Buttigieg—or anyone else—will almost certainly have to grind it out until early June, when the final primaries will take place. But that doesn’t mean the remaining candidates have a lot of time to get organized on a national level. To the contrary, the timetable is about to speed up dramatically.
From New Hampshire, the race moves on to Nevada, which votes on February 22nd, and South Carolina, which votes a week later. Then it goes into Super Tuesday, March 3rd, when fourteen states—Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, and Virginia—will vote. Seven days later, six more states will vote: Idaho, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, and Washington.
A month from now, almost half of the pledged delegates will have been chosen. This compressed timetable favors a candidate who has four things: a clear message, a lot of money (to pay for staffers and advertising), a national network of supporters, and a diverse set of voters. At this stage, it’s not clear if any of the leading candidates check all of these boxes.

6 February
(WaPo) No candidates dropped out of the race after Iowa, meaning the field stands at 11: former vice president Joe Biden; former South Bend, Ind., mayor Pete Buttigieg, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.); Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.); former New York mayor Mike Bloomberg; Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.); billionaire activist Tom Steyer; entrepreneur Andrew Yang; Sen. Michael F. Bennet (D-Colo.); Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii); and former Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick. Candidates have laid out where they stand on a number of issues. Answer some of the questions yourself and see who agrees with you.

(New York) The Most Important Story of the Week: The disaster Democrats endured in Iowa Monday was a gift — and not the first — to Donald Trump and the Republican Party, Frank Rich writes in “Iowa Is Just the Latest Chapter in a Rolling Democratic Calamity.” The entire primary process, from the overpopulated and undernourished debates to the anti-democratic calendar, has been a debacle that won’t soon be forgotten. Not just by Trump and his defenders, who will crow about Democratic ineptitude in Iowa for months, but by Democratic campaign staffers and reporters, whose tears, regrets, and pledges to never return to the state Olivia Nuzzi chronicles in “The Iowa Caucuses Were Supposed to Be Important.”

Early winners and losers from the Iowa caucuses
App Used to Tabulate Votes Is Said to Have Been Inadequately Tested
The app was quickly put together in the past two months and was not properly tested at a statewide scale, according to people briefed on the matter.
Nevada Democrats say they will not use mobile app at the center of Iowa confusion
Election meltdown: What went wrong at the Iowa caucuses
(Reuters) – A technology meltdown triggered chaos in the hours after the Iowa caucuses were held on Monday night, upending a highly-anticipated first contest in the U.S. Democratic presidential nomination race.
…state officials instructed the local volunteers, known as precinct chairs, to download a mobile app. It was designed to collect the data and then provide results.
Before voting even began, complaints about the app surfaced in media. Users complained in interviews that it was difficult to log into the app. …it became clear that Iowa Democrats were going to have to find another way to tabulate the results.
Local party officials began calling to submit their results, but jammed phone lines meant that even the old-fashioned way wasn’t working.
Further exacerbating the problem was the volume of information that Democratic officials had to collect this time. Each individual caucus involves a two-step process. Voters pick a candidate. And then any voter who backs a candidate with less than 15% support makes a second choice. Then the results are converted into delegates.
All voters who attended a caucus filled out a card indicating their picks – both the first and second.
“The good news is that they didn’t use (the mobile app) for voting, which means the results are available and have been preserved on paper.”
Chaos reigns on Iowa caucus night
(CBS) As Monday turned into Tuesday, there was no victor in Iowa. There weren’t even any official results.
As the campaigns came to learn, the Iowa Democratic Party found “inconsistencies” in reporting the three sets of results it promised to deliver. The information was to come from precinct captains, who were to report it through a newly developed app. But they ran into trouble as caucuses finished.
…the Iowa Democratic Party said it is working to validate the results using photographs and a paper trail, candidates are already shifting their focus to the next contest: the New Hampshire primary on February 11.
The botched Iowa caucuses have become the ultimate political metaphor
Monday’s voting revealed the Democrats apparently can’t count – not the most promising sign for the 2020 election

31 January
Why Is the Iowa Caucus So Important?
One reason Iowa draws so much attention in a presidential campaign year is because the Iowa caucus is unlike any other.
(HowStuffWorks) The simplest answer may be that Iowa is the first state in the nation to show its support for candidates. Sen. George McGovern, the Democratic contender in the 1972 election, explained the significance of Iowa like this: “Iowa is terribly important. It’s the first test in the nation, where we get any test at all.”
That test comes from real, everyday voters. The level of support a candidate receives in Iowa gives a reasonable indication of how they will perform with the rest of American voters. The traditional thinking goes that if middle-American Iowans support a candidate, then that candidate has a chance with the rest of the nation.
The Democratic and GOP caucus systems in Iowa are different. In the Democratic caucus system, registered voters don’t just go to their designated polling place and, well, vote. Instead, they attend public meetings, usually held in school gyms, churches and public libraries, and even restaurants and fire stations, to choose their presidential nominee by standing in a section of the room devoted to their candidate. If a preference group doesn’t get enough people to be considered “viable,” (usually 15 percent of attendees), caucus-goers can join another group, or try to convince people to join their group, in order to reach the 15 percent goal. Delegates are awarded to the final viable preference groups based on their sizes.
For the 2020 Iowa caucus, the Iowa Democratic Party (IDP) made the most historic changes to the process since it was first established in 1972. For the first time, registered Iowa Democrats will be able to participate through six “virtual caucuses” via phone or smart device. They will rank up to five choices for president and the total result of the six virtual caucuses will account for 10 percent of Iowa’s caucus delegates.

Iowa shouldn’t vote first. Here’s an idea to fix the primary process.
Iowa has voted first since 1972. It’s ridiculous.
(Vox) It’s a small state that doesn’t award many delegates, but Iowa plays a huge role in our nomination process. Winning Iowa means instant credibility for a candidate and that means more favorable media coverage and therefore more momentum for a campaign.
But here’s the problem: The Democratic Party is a collection of diverse groups — young people, liberal whites, conservative-leaning African Americans and Latinos, non-religious Americans, city-dwellers, and so on. By contrast, Iowa’s population is roughly 90 percent white, uncommonly old, and heavily rural.
In other words, it doesn’t really look like America and isn’t representative of the Democratic base. And yet a 2007 study found that a voter in Iowa or New Hampshire (where the first primary is held*) has about 20 times more influence than someone who votes in a later primary. That doesn’t seem fair by any standard. … Iowa is one of the fastest-growing states for the growth of the Latino population and it’s actually more liberal than some of those demographics might suggest. This is partly why Bernie Sanders has been shooting up the polls in Iowa lately. So Iowa, demographically, isn’t really reflective of the broader Democratic base, but ideologically it’s not all that different.
It will be interesting to see how the state evolves moving forward. Iowa has always been what we’d call a swing state, going back and forth from election to election. It supported Obama in 2008 and 2012 and then Trump in 2016. In that way, it’s a decent snapshot of the country as a whole.
* New Hampshire has a state law that says it must be the first state to hold a primary in a presidential election. But because Iowa holds a caucus rather than a primary, it has remained the first state to hold any kind of vote on candidates for both parties since 1976. As such, Iowa has been consistently important in presidential campaigns since the 1970s. Many point to the media as the true creator of the prominent political role that Iowa enjoys.

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