St Paul City DFL Convention Countdown: Day Four

Our interest in the Convention Count Down is building, we have had twice as many people read Day Five and had read Day Six. Leading into the convention this is encouraging for those who value the process, and actually R-E-S-P-E-C-T the delegates and alternates.

The issues with the Rules Committee’s proposed Rules and Agenda has just gotten even more fascinating because the *correction Rules Committee member Eric T. Nelson* has submitted a Minority Report to the Rules Committee Chair Rick Varco and he had agreed to make copies for all the delegates to the convention. We also hear he secretly believes the report will pass.

As you can see we are pretty well-connected because we have a copy of the report and the accompanying agenda.

We will forgo Tips & Tricks this installment but will remind our readers C&B Publisher Shawn Towle is a delegate and he will be proposing in item 26 a “Friendly” Amendment to use Instant Run-off Voting as the method for the Drop Rule. He contacted the DFL Party Constitution & Bylaws Commission Co-Chair Chris Thorp who emailed the following:

Hi all,

Following my previous email, I consulted further with Jason, and am providing this email as a follow-up.

RONR contains a mix of recommendations, requirements, and factual statements.  The language on “preferential voting” is a recommendation and not a requirement (“should” vs. “shall” or “must”).  The first portion of language cited by Jason is actually a recommendation and not a requirement. Roberts continues in that section, on page 428, to state:

The system of preferential voting just described should not be used in cases where it is possible to follow the normal procedure of repeated balloting until one candidate or proposition attains a majority. Although this type of preferential ballot is preferable to an election by plurality, it affords less freedom of choice than repeated balloting, because it denies voters the opportunity of basing their second or lesser choices on the results of earlier ballots, and because the candidate or proposition in last place is automatically eliminated and may thus be prevented from becoming a compromise choice. (emphasis mine)

If it were prohibited in all cases where it is otherwise possible to conduct repeated balloting, it would be “shall not” be used.

With our long standing practice of using drop rules in our endorsement process, we are largely subject to the negative effect cited by RONR against using preferential voting – namely that that the last place is automatically eliminated (often subject to a percentage threshold).  We partially mitigate the negative effects by not dropping below 2 candidates.

Regarding the second portion, the prohibition on use for officer elections unless authorized by the bylaws, I see our endorsements more akin to other resolutions with multiple choices.  It is effectively a multiple-choice motion that permits future monetary and volunteer commitments to be made.

Regardless, it is clear that reasonable people can make different interpretations with respect to the language contained in RONR and endorsements, which include, but are not limited to:  (1) the above quoted language prohibits use of ranked choice voting for both the endorsement and the drop rule; and (2) that the extrapolation of the above language relating to an election is completely irrelevant and should not be consulted with respect to endorsements.

Given this fact, Jason and I now agree that the entire subject of ranked choice voting and endorsements is a gray area (which we will work to clarify with the CBRC for future cycles).  Accordingly, because the convention is the highest ranking body of an organization, we are inclined to defer to the will of that convention with respect to use or non-use of ranked choice voting as a drop rule.  While a gray area, drop rules vary wildly, and are not addressed in our party rules or RONR (either as a permitted activity or limited in any fashion).  Because we as a party have a long history of allowing conventions to establish their own drop rules as they see fit, it seems reasonable to us to believe that use of ranked choice voting as a drop rule would survive challenge (so long as no reallocated votes were used in issuing the endorsement).  See, e.g., the discussion on Custom on page 19 of RONR.

Although there is a reasonable argument that use of ranked choice voting is not prohibited for endorsement itself, we recommend against use of reallocated votes for endorsement.  This is political, practical advice.  As a matter of illustration, I would note that when the ranked choice voting procedures section was added to the Official Call, the CBRC debated whether to extend this authority to endorsements, and it was rejected.  While that rejection is not binding (i.e., no prohibition was voted upon and added to the rules), it is a window into the thinking of many CBRC members (especially given that the CBRC is made up of members statewide, and ranked choice voting is not generally as popular or widely supported outside of the metro).  So, for political, practical reasons to ensure that an endorsement could withstand a challenge, Jason and I advise that ranked choice voting not be used to reallocate votes in a manner which results in an endorsement.

Kind regards,

Chris Thorp

Co-chair of the DFL State Constitution, Bylaws, and Rules Committee

Minority Report-2017 St. Paul DFL City Rules






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