Primary Primer III: What Happens At Convention

The primaries are upon us and soon both parties will be selecting their nominees. But if the residents of States vote in the primary, what’s the role of the Party Convention? Where do SuperDelegates fit in? Who is really choosing the Presidential candidate?

As we covered in the last two posts, the Presidential nominee for a political party is not directly elected by all voters. Instead, delegates are selected in a variety of ways; most often exclusively by registered members of a particular party. These delegates are then sent to a party’s National Convention to pick the nominee.

Nothing Is For Sure
Oftentimes it is clear who will win the nomination before Convention. However, even with primaries done and delegates pledged, the results are not predetermined. People can walk in expecting to be the Nominee and walk out an also ran. How? Let’s find out.

Voting Share
Unlike in general elections, representation isn’t necessarily based on the number of residents, or even eligible voters. Instead, every State is given a certain number of delegates proportional to the number of votes people in that State cast for the Party’s Presidential candidate in previous elections. So, the more votes your state give to a Democrat (averaged over the last three elections) the delegates your state gets to the Convention.

Who Can Delegates Vote For?
At the Convention, elected (not Super) delegates are bound to vote for whoever won the primary or caucus in their state; and in the same percentage. So, if a candidate on 40% of the vote, they get 40% of the delegates. Whoever wins a majority of the of Convention Delegates receives the nomination.

If no one wins a majority, delegates are released from their pledges. At this point, horse-trading and deals can be struck in a Brokered Convention. Voting continues through successive rounds until one candidate wins a majority.

The Democratic Party actually changed its rules in 1936 because nomination required ⅔ of the delegate vote and made brokered conventions incredibly common. As a result, many nominees ended up being compromise candidates who weren’t even front-runners before the Convention!

And The Winner Is…
Whoever gets the required majority of delegates becomes that party’s nominee. This candidate will receive the prodigious support that a National Party can offer – from local organizing apparatus (like local parties and Democratic Clubs), to the Party’s political brand and, of course, money.

It is up to the Party to come together after a nominee has been chosen and put aside the differences which were expressed in the primary period. Whatever issues were raised, the job of the primary was to air them and give Party members a chance to make the decision of who would perform best in the General election with their eyes open.

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Primary Primer II: Who Chooses The Presidential Choosers?


The primaries are upon us and soon both parties will be selecting their nominees. But if the residents of States vote in the primary, what’s the role of the Party Convention? Where do SuperDelegates fit in? Who is really choosing the Presidential candidate?

In the last post we saw that many of the delegates are elected. But it’s not always clear who can vote for them. In this post we’ll examine who chooses them.

How Many Delegates are There? Who Can Be a Delegate?

Each state is awarded a set number of delegates based on Party rules. In the Democratic Party, for example, delegates are awarded based on a State’s historical electoral vote and its turnout for the Democratic candidate in previous elections. In this way, more Democratic States are given more voice.

Parties may also set representation goals, requiring that some number of seats be reserved for specific classes such as young members, or members of specific ethnic groups. This is often done to bring delegations in-line with the census report for each State.

Who Chooses the Elected Delegates?

Possibly the most important piece of all this – Delegates are RARELY chosen by voters at large. Even though the media makes it sound like caucuses and primaries are open to all, they generally aren’t. There are four kinds of election processes, each with their own rules.

Closed Primaries

In order to vote in a party’s primary, you must  to be registered with that political party before the election.

Deadlines for registration vary but if, for example, you want to vote in the Democratic Primary and you haven’t registered as a Democrat, you won’t be able to. New York actually has the most stringent laws in the country, with registration deadlines month before the vote.

There are 12 states that use a strictly closed primary process, including:[5][4][6]

Open Primaries

Any voter can vote in one party primary of their choice, regardless of registration. So, it’s basically the opposite of the closed primary.

There are 14 States that use a strictly open primary process:

Mixed Primaries

Mixed primaries are anything that’s not strictly open or closed. They have all sorts of rules ranging from some parties being open and others being closed, to using past voting history to decide in which primary a person can vote.

There are only 8 states which use mixed primaries and you can check out all their rules on

Blanket Primaries (Jungle Primary)

The least popular kind of primary, everyone can vote and the top vote-getter from each party for a particular office wins. So instead of voting by party, voters vote on candidates for office. But if one Democrat gets 100 votes, another 80 votes and the Republican gets 50; the top Democrat and top Republican both go on to the General election as the nominees of their party.

States which use this system are

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Happy New Year, Manhattan Democrats!

This year promises to be a critical one for our Party. With Republican extremism at full throttle, there’s never been a more urgent need to turn out votes for Dems up and down the ballot. Spread the word about how to get involved today!

Support the local clubs and organizations that make New York County so great. Check out these upcoming events in your neighborhood—

Ansonia Democratic Club
Annual Holiday Party
Sunday, January 10th from 4-6pm
Spring Natural Kitchen
474 Columbus Avenue between West 82nd & 83rd Streets
RSVP here

Concerned Democratic Coalition
celebrate Dia De Los Tres Reyes 
Sunday, January 10th from 4-6pm
Broadway Temple
4111 Broadway between 173rd & 174th Streets

Judicial Induction of Hon. Lyle Frank
Thursday, January 14th at 4:30pm
111 Centre Street, Manhattan

Democratic Presidential Debate
Sunday, January 17th, 9pm on NBC

4th NYC Grassroots Debate Watch for Hillary
Sunday, January 17th from 7:30 to 11pm
STITCH Bar and Lounge
247 West 37th Street
Contact or
917-443-3315 & RSVP

National Women’s Political Caucus
January Meeting
Tuesday, January 19th at 5:30pm
Murphy Institute
25 West 43rd Street

Four Freedoms Democratic Club
Annual Election Meeting
Tuesday, January 26th at 7pm
Church of the Holy Trinity
316 East 88th Street, between 1st & 2nd Avenues

Ansonia Independent Democrats
Presentation & Conversation on Voting Rights
with Ari Berman
Tuesday, January 26th at 7:30pm
Stephen Wise Free Synagogue
30 West 68th Street
Registration required 212-877-4050 x280

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Democratic Clubs II: What’s In a Number?

A typical Assembly District (AD) in Manhattan

You’ve read about Democratic Clubs and you’ve decided you’d like to get involved. How do you get started? And which Club’s district are you in, anyway?

When it comes to political districts, the first thing you need to know is your Assembly District, or “AD” for short. Don’t feel bad if you don’t know it! Lots of folks don’t, and the numbers change over the years so it may be different then you remember.

The best bet is to click here and do a quick search. When I put in my address, I learn that I’m in the 73rd AD, and that my Assembly Member is Dan Quart.

Now, for me, this makes things easy. The whole of the 73rd AD, from 96th down to 32nd, is represented by one Club: the Lexington Democratic Club. So my next step would be to go to the Lex Club’s website, join the Club and sign up for the e-mail newsletter.

But here’s where it gets confusing. Some clubs cover more than just one AD, and lots of ADs are covered by more than one club! Confused? Let’s look at an example.

Suppose my friend Keiko lives on Roosevelt Island. She goes online and finds out that she lives in the 76th AD and is represented by Assembly Member Seawright. But the 76th AD has two official Democratic Clubs: the Lenox Hill Democratic Club and the Four Freedoms Democratic Club. Which one covers Keiko?

To find out, we have to dig deeper and look at how ADs themselves are politically divided. Next time we’ll look at what are called Assembly District Parts, and learn how to sort out exactly where we stand.

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Primary Primer I: Who Chooses The Presidential Nominee

The primaries are upon us and soon both parties will be selecting their nominees. But if the residents of States vote in the primary or caucus, what’s the role of the Party Convention? Where do SuperDelegates fit in? Who is really choosing the Presidential candidate?

In this post we’ll be examining how the delegates which choose the nominee are selected.

Elected Delegates: It Could Be YOU
Delegates don’t come out of thin air; a vast majority of them are elected (we’ll address the ones which aren’t below).

It all starts with petitioning…(unless you’re in a caucus state)
Requirements for getting on the ballot vary by State but there’s always an option to gather signatures from some percentage of the population. Again, depending on the State, petitions may be directly for the candidate (sign for Presidential candidate x) or they may be for specific delegates pledging to vote for that candidate (sign for delegate candidate who will vote for presidential candidate x).

If you want want to petition for a candidate and run as a delegate for him/her, you should contact the campaign.

In New York…
Delegates petition for themselves (or a slate running together) within a Congressional District (CD). They are listed in a predetermined order and, for every delegate a candidate wins in that CD, another delegate candidate is elected. Delegate order is determined in coordination with the Presidential campaign they hope to represent. A campaign may also reject specific delegate candidates.

It builds to the Primary…(unless you’re in a caucus state)
In the primary, voters either select the candidate or individual delegates. Either way the result is the same, the percentage of the vote determines how many delegates a candidate receives and a proportional number of delegate candidates become real delegates.

*NOTE*: Not everyone gets to vote for delegates all the time! In the next post, we’ll be talking about just who gets this critical power.

Ok, you’re in a caucus State…
Though outside the purview of the Manhattan Democratic Party (where we use primaries) we’ll cover it. In a Caucus there’s no petitioning. Party members go to caucus and then select, sometimes over hours of discussion, who they should support and who should be delegates. In this system, delegates may be elected as “uncommitted” to any particular candidate.

Super Delegates
SuperDelegates are unelected delegates. They are politically important people such as Elected officials. The Democratic Party uniquely gives seats to former high-ranking electeds such as past Presidents.

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Yes, It’s #TransparencyTuesday!

It’s  #TransparencyTuesday once again and we have some great stuff for you this week.

First, we’ve updated our website with the photos of most of the District Leaders in Manhattan. The District Leaders are  one set of YOUR elected representatives to the County Party, along with your County Committee members. You can think of them sort of as the County Party Senate. All District Leaders site on the County Executive Board so go check out who your DL is; with the new photos, now you’ll know who to harass at the supermarket!

Second, one of our District Leaders is opening up his expertise in a mini-series for #TransparencyTuesday. Did you know that our Democratic Party is broken up into local clubs in the different Manhattan neighborhoods? Well, Cory Evans is letting everyone know exactly how that works. Check out the first installment in his series, Size Matters.

Last but not least, continuing the #tTransparencyTuesday theme of busting open campaign finance to the public, our County Secretary Ben Yee how to do your own Independent Expenditures (i.e., BE A SUPERPAC) with step-by-step instructions.

Oh wait, we’re also adding all these events to our public Google Calendar (but man, it takes a while).

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(Almost) Everything You Need To Know About Grassroots Campaign Finance Compliance

FEC Logo

Ever wonder how a PAC becomes a PAC? Our friends at, where our Secretary Ben Yee also writes, have posted up a great transparency piece about the different requirements and levels of activity that must be reported by the FEC.

If you’re thinking about getting involved in supporting a Presidential candidate with your own, independent activities, this is a must read.

A lot of spending by individuals and small groups gets lost because it isn’t reported. Each time we fail to report, the hard work and commitment of individual donors is lost, depriving them of a voice, and politicians of the real picture of American activism.

Worse yet, people are turned off from participating because the laws to help make our system transparent scare them off.

If you’re raising or spending more than $250 you need to report.

But don’t be intimidated, you don’t have to do very much and this post breaks it own with step-by-step instructions.

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Democratic Clubs Part I: Size Matters

By Cory Evans

Want to get involved in the Democratic Party at the hyper-local level? I don’t mean Congress, or even the City Council — I mean really, really local. If you do, and you live in Manhattan, you should consider getting involved with one of the many party clubs organized throughout the City.

Broadly speaking, there are two categories of Democratic Party clubs in New York City. The first category is called district clubs, the second category is called city-wide clubs. Today we’ll talk about these two categories and explain the differences.

District clubs represent the Democratic Party within a certain geographic area. For example, my Democratic Club — called the Lexington Democratic Club — represents the Democratic Party throughout the 73rd Assembly District.

You can be a member of as many district clubs as you want, and there are dozens throughout the City. But, by courtesy and tradition, you can vote in one. That club is called your voting club or home club, and you are said to be a voting member of that club.

Citywide clubs focus on advocating for an issue or cause within the Democratic Party. Examples include the Manhattan Young Democrats, the Stonewall Democratic Club and the Muslim Democratic Club. You can join as many city-wide clubs as you like and you can vote in all of them if you wish to.

But how do you know which district club covers your neighborhood? And how are the geographic borders decided anyway? I’ll try to answer both those questions next time when we focus on district clubs and district leaders.

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Upcoming Events

6th Annual Karaoke with Krueger
Tuesday, December 1st, from 6-8pm
1452 2nd Avenue (between 75th & 76th Streets)
Tickets start at $25!

LaborPress Leadership Awards Reception
Tuesday, Dec 1, 2015
NYC District Council of Carpenters, 10th Fl.
395 Hudson St. New York, NY 10004

Councilmember Dan Garodnick Cocktail Reception
6:00-7:30 PM
The Folly
92 West Houston Street
Cost – $250

Designing Better Affordable Housing
Panel Discussion
Co-Sponsored By VID
Tuesday, December 1, 2015 6:30 PM
Museum of the City of New York
105 Street and Fifth Avenue

FFDC December Nomination Meeting
Wednesday, December 2nd, at 7pm
Church of the Holy Trinity Choir Room
341 East 87th Street (Between 1st & 2nd Aves)

Judicial Induction of Arthur F. Engoron
Thursday, 3rd December, 2015,
4:30 p.m.
111 Centre Str.

Three Parks Independent Democrats Holiday Party
Sunday, December 6 from 5:00 PM to 8:00 PM
The Youth Hostel, Ballroom 891 Amsterdam Ave @103rd St New York, NY 10025

Uptown Community Free Democrats
General Meeting is Dec 6th 3 to 5p

CRDC Holiday Party
December 6
4 – 7:00P.M. Hudson Guild Elliott Center

LHDC Holiday Party
December 8, 2015
The East Wing
7:00 to 10:00 pm.

CoDA – Coalition for a District Alternative Holiday Party
Tuesday, December 8th from 6:30-10:30pm
Revision Lounge, 219 Avenue B between E 13th and E 14th Streets
For more information email:

FFDC Holiday Party!
Wednesday, December 9th, at 7pm
The East Wing
306 East 76th Street (between 1st & 2nd Aves)
RSVP on Facebook – Free appetizers and cocktails!

Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal Holiday Party
Wednesday, December 9, 2015 • 6:00 – 8:00 p.m.
Hargrave House
111 West 71st Street (between Amsterdam & Columbus Avenues)
Refreshments Will Be Served
RSVP: 212-873-6368 or

Judicial Induction of Tanya Renee Kennedy
Thursday, 10th December, 2015
4:30 p.m., 60 Centre Str.

Judicial Induction of Lisa Susan Headley
Friday, 11th December, 2015
5:30 p.m.
Poet’s Den & Gallery, 309 East 108th St., betw. 1st & 2nd Aves.

NARAL Holiday Party
December 9th
Juke Bar in the East Village
Ticket are $15 and include one complimentary drink ticket. Happy hour specials will run all night ($5 beer, wine, and well drinks). Click here to purchase your ticket in advance!

Tenants Clinic
Wednesday, December 9, 2015
26 Perry Street
6:00 PM

VID Holiday Party
Frieda Bradlow’s Home
Sunday, December 13, 2015
43 Charlton Street 2-5 PM
Donations of food and beverages
Email Nancy what you will bring at

Gramercy Stuyvesant Ind. Dems Holiday Party
Sunday Dec. 13 th 2015
Mumbles Restaurant, East 17th Street and 3rd Ave
Members free, Guests- $35.00
RSVP- Marcia Goldstein 212-475-5755

Uptown Community Free Democrats
Holiday Party is Dec 13th 4-6:30
Location TBA

November 13 – December 13
Drop off Centers
Your Local Precinct Community Affairs Office
3333 Broadway Tenant Association Room
Contact: Alicia Barksdale at or call (917) 892-9197

Rep. Carolyn Maloney & Assemblyman Dan Quart’s Annual Holiday Party
Monday, December 14th, from 6-7:30pm
PS 527 (East Side School for Social Action)
323 East 91st Street (between 1st & 2nd Aves)

Lexington Democratic Club Holiday Party
Tuesday December 15, 2015
Location TBA
Cost: unwrapped toy for charity

Frederick E. Samuel Community Democratic Club
Harlem YMCA Annex, 181 W 135th St between Malcolm X. Blvd and Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Blvd. (Lenox and 7th Ave). For more details please see the image of the flier.

Eleanor Roosevelt Democratic Club,

Judicial Induction of Raymond L. Bruce
Thursday, 17th December, 2015
4:30 p.m.,
111 Centre Str.

Democratic Candidates Debates
Saturday, December 19, 2015 on ABC

Tenants Clinic
Wednesday, December 23, 2015
26 Perry Street
6:00 PM

VID Executive Committee Meeting
Monday, December 28, 2015
26 Perry Street
6:30 PM

General Membership Meeting
Thursday, January 14, 2016
St. John’s Lutheran Church Annex
83 Christopher Street
6:30 PM

Judicial Induction of Arlene P. Bluth
Thursday, 7th January, 2016
4:30 p.m.,
111 Centre Str.

Judicial Induction of Lyle Frank
Thursday, 14th January, 2016
4:30 p.m.,
111 Centre Str.

Democratic Candidates Debates
Saturday, January 17, 2016 on NBC

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The Top 10 Political Money Terms Everyone Should Know

Welcome to our second #TransparencyTuesday! Today we’re going to start digging into the the mechanics and specifics of our political system. In honor the Executive Committee’s presentation on Campaign Finance last week, let’s cover the basics of money in politics. Here we’ll define, in plain language, some of the most common terms in the ultra complex alphabet soup of political campaign finance.

Want a sneak peek of upcoming topics? Check out my report in the minutes of the last County Committee Executive Committee.

Have topics you’d like to see covered? Let us know on twitter or Facebook with #TransparencyTuesday


Here are the Top 10 Political Money Terms Everyone Should Know. They’re presented in order of utility. So, number 3 will be a lot easier to understand if you know number 2.

*DISCLAIMER: To make our lawyers happy, I must disclose I am not a lawyer and nothing here should be construed as definitive or taken as legal advice. However, it is well researched.

1. Cycle
The time between the end of one election and the the end of the next one. For example, the 2016 Presidential Cycle is the time since Barack Obama was re-elected (in 2012) until the next President is elected in 2016.

It’s in this period that candidates are preparing for the next election (even as currently elected ones work to pass laws and govern the country).

2. PAC (Political Action Committee)
A PAC is nothing more than a political bank account. It’s filled by donations from people and other PACs. The amount each contributor can give is limited by campaign finance law which varies based on Federal, State and local laws.

PAC status is determined solely by raising and spending money for political purposes; such as supporting or opposing candidates, parties or ballot initiatives (referendums).Once a bank account either raises or spends enough money (based on Federal, State or local law), it becomes a PAC and must report who has contributed and what it bought.

Anyone raising or spending enough money is automatically considered a PAC and should file with their local regulator. There are specific types of PACs, with varying limitations, depending on its owners role in the political process including:

Candidate PACs
Political Party PACs
Unauthorized (i.e. some random person or group like yourself) PACs

(Next week we’ll delve into what PACs do, Super PACs, and how to start one)

3. Political Contribution
As the name implies, political contributions are money given by individuals or PACs* to candidates and other PACs. Simple!

Political contributions are capped so that only a certain amount can be given to a candidate or PAC per cycle.

*Contrary to popular belief, corporations may not give to Federal candidates. Only individuals, and PACs which get contributions from individuals, may give. State rules may be different.

However many incorporated entities, have PACs to which their employees or members give. These PACs fight for the interests of the corporation. Banks and Unions do this a lot.

4. In-Kind Contribution
Instead of giving money, people can give other things of value to politicians and PACs. This can be office space, food, a website, a mailing list – whatever it is, the market value of this good/service must be counted towards the individual or PACs contribution limit.

Notably, volunteer time, volunteer commuting costs and homemade items do not count as in-kind contributions.

5. Contribution Limit
The maximum value an individual or PAC may donate to a candidate or PAC. This may in the form of financial contributions or in-kind contributions which must be counted at the market rate.

6. Campaign Expenditure
Money spent by a Candidate Authorized Committee (A PAC specifically for a candidate’s campaign) on winning an election.

7. Independent Expenditure (IEs)
Money spent by an individual or PAC to help a candidate’s campaign without without its knowledge or input.

8. Coordinated Expenditure
Money spent by an individual or PAC to help a candidate’s campaign without with its knowledge or input. This may include sharing strategies, data and resources to amplify the work of the allied spending.

9. Electioneering Communication (Federal Only)
Any broadcast, cable or satellite communication that:

  • Refers to a clearly identified federal candidate;
  • Is publicly distributed by a television station, radio station, cable television system or satellite system for a fee (legally this means can be received by at least 50,000 people);
  • Is distributed within 60 days prior to a general election or 30 days prior to a primary election to federal office.

10. Super PAC
A PAC which makes only Independent Expenditures (see 7). These IEs may include Electioneering Communications (see 9) openly supporting or opposing specific candidates for office.

Before the Supreme Court case Citizens United v. FEC, Corporations and Labor Unions were barred from making, or supporting PACs making, Electioneering Communications. Post Citizens United, they are allowed.

There are no Contribution Limits (see 5) for IEs and therefore for Super PACs.

Have a question? Comment? Topic idea?

Let us know on Twitter at #TransparencyTuesday. You can get me directly at @yben or @manhattandems.

You can also reach us on Facebook at

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