At the 2016 Democratic National Convention, the Unity Reform Commission was formed to make recommendations to the DNC on how to reform the Democratic presidential nomination process. While the Unity Reform Commission adopted historic reforms reducing the influence of unpledged delegates, pushing states for same-day voter registration, increasing accessibility for caucuses and ensuring the DNC operates with more transparency and accountability, the Unity Reform Commission with Chair Jennifer O'Malley Dillon casting the decisive vote to table an amendment that would address one of the most important aspects the Unity Reform Commission was charged with addressing: "make recommendations to encourage the expanded use of primary elections."
Under the current process, state party leaders are permitted to unilaterally decide if they want to use a primary or a caucus to allocate its national delegates. Many states choose to allocate their delegates with their state-run presidential primary over a party-run caucus. However, a few states--Idaho, Nebraska and Washington State--decided to use caucuses to allocate their national delegates in 2016. In 2016, Nebraska and Washington State held non-binding presidential primaries that did not count along with binding caucuses to allocate their delegates. Idaho Democratic Party decided to hold only a caucus and did not hold a primary even though the state was willing to pay for it (ID Republicans used a primary to allocate its delegates).
In 2016, Democrats witnessed first-hand that caucuses inherently disenfranchised voters, especially communities of color, working families and individuals part of the disability community. In Nebraska, a little more than 20,000 voters participated in the party's caucuses on March 5, 2016, but over 80,000 voters participated in the Nebraska non-binding presidential primary held May 24, 2016. Those 80,000 votes cast by Nebraskans were simply ignored for the purposes of electing our Democratic nominee. In Washington State, an estimated 230,000 voters participated in the party caucuses on March 26, 2016, but over 800,000 voters participated in the May 24th non-binding presidential primary. Those 800,000 votes were basically thrown away as if they were never casted. Under the current Democratic nomination process--the one that some members of the Unity Reform Commission want to remain in place, Party leadership can simply ignore the larger results of the presidential primaries and use the results of lesser-attended party caucuses to allocate its delegates.
We are the Democratic Party and use the mechanism that best takes into account the most Democratic voices. Therefore, we the undersigned urge the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee and the full DNC to live up to the mandate of the resolution to" expand the use of primary elections" and require that states with state-run presidential primary to use their respective primary over a caucus system to allocate the state's national delegates when a state-run presidential primary exists. Such a rule would also forbid state parties from reverting back to caucuses when a state-funded presidential primary already exists.
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