An amendment to eliminate superdelegates has been officially filed with the DNC Rules Committee. The official letter, authored by Rep. Diane Russell (D-Portland), seeks to “remove superdelegates and democratize the Democratic party.
“In May of this year, I introduced an amendment to the Maine Democratic Convention to change our state party rules in 2020 to ensure that Unpledged Party Leaders and Elected Officials (PLEOs)—so-called “superdelegates”—cast their ballots in accordance with the popular vote of their home state,” the letter begins. “In addition, we requested that current superdelegates voluntarily cast their ballots in proportion to the popular vote, and that our DNC members work toward the abolition of this undemocratic system.”
The letter continues, noting that Maine is not alone: “Since then, numerous states have passed similar resolutions, and even more have debated them or submitted them for future conventions. From the average voter to presidential candidates and even superdelegates themselves, our party is unifying under the belief that we must eliminate this unnecessary class divide.”
In an exclusive interview, Russell, who is a delegate for Bernie Sanders pointed out that he won “overwhelmingly” in Maine but “most of the superdelegates were pledged for Hillary Clinton.” Voters, she said, were “outraged” and “wanted to be able to have a real voice.”
“People were pretty frustrated that the popular vote could go one way and yet superdelegates could vote in a different way than the state,” Russell explained.
Some in the Democratic party are strongly supportive of eliminating superdelegates, such as Christine Pelosi, who is partnering with Russell on the effort. Russell also noted that Barney Frank, who she said is a “pretty big Hillary Supporter” is also “on the record as supporting abolishing superdelegates.” However, not everybody is so eager to move forward. According to Russell, Raymond Buckley “was not super excited”
“The momentum is definitely there,” said Russell. “When you look at Elizabeth Warren and Russ Feingold, they’re all on board. They’ve come out strongly in support of ending superdelegates. It’s kind of an indefensible system.”
Superdelegates become a topic of hot debate every election year, but this year has seen more discontent with the system than there has been in the past. When asked if she attributes this to a particular candidate, her response came from the heart.
I attribute it to the fundamental notion that one person should have one vote and it should be equal to another vote. That there shouldn’t be some seperate system of people who’s votes weigh more than others
When you look at who makes up the superdelegates, 58 percent are men and only about 20 percent are African-American, I think 11 or 12 percent are Hispanic. Pew did a really remarkable breakdown of it. Not only do they have outside influence, they don’t actually reflect the demographics of the party’s voters. The party itself has very noble aspirations in terms of representation and this system sort of flies in the face of it.
In the letter, Russell explains why the elimination of superdelegates is so vital to the Democratic party, and democracy itself for that matter.
We cannot in good conscience deny that there is a growing frustration amongst working and middle class people—well beyond Maine—with the tone-deafness of the elected representatives of the people’s party. We have always been the party of the hard-working, the voiceless, and the downtrodden; but by upholding the special privileges of superdelegates, we are betraying the people we fight for to service an unjust, archaic, and anti-democratic institution.
Superdelegates are the embodiment of a system that is rigged in favor of the powerful at the expense of the powerless. That is why I am submitting this amendment to you directly.
Russell believes firmly that the Democratic party will eventually eliminate superdelegates. She added that she has fought, and will continue to fight, for the abolition of the superdelegate system because of one prevailing belief: “If you want to build a fair economy that works for everyone, you first have to build a fair election system that works for everyone.”
You can read the letter in its entirety here: