Democratic National Committee chair and Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz explained the motive behind the Democratic Party’s appointment of unpledged delegates, also called “superdelegates,” who are former party leaders and elected officials who are allowed to ignore the outcome of primary elections’ popular vote totals and instead vote for the presidential candidate of their personal choice at the party’s nominating convention.
CNN’s Jake Tapper asked Wasserman Schultz on Thursday, “Hillary Clinton lost to Bernie Sanders in New Hampshire by 22 percentage points, the biggest victory in a contested Democratic primary there since John F. Kennedy, but it looks as though Clinton and Sanders are leaving the Granite State with the same number of delegates in their pockets because Clinton has the support of New Hampshire’s superdelegates, these party insiders. What do you tell voters who are new to the process who says[sic] this makes them feel like it’s all rigged?”
Wasserman Schultz replied, “Well, let me just make sure that I can clarify exactly what was available during the primaries in Iowa and in New Hampshire. The unpledged delegates are a separate category. The only thing available on the ballot in a primary and a caucus is the pledged delegates— those that are tied to the candidate that they are pledged to support, and they receive a proportional number of delegates going into our convention.”
She added, “Unpledged delegates exist really to make sure that party leaders and elected officials don’t have to be in a position where they are running against grassroots activists. We are as a Democratic Party really highlight and emphasize inclusiveness and diversity at our convention, and so we want to give every opportunity to grassroots activists and diverse, committed Democrats to be able to participate, attend, and be a delegate at the convention. And so we separate out those unpledged delegates to make sure that there isn’t competition between them.”
Tapper responded, “I’m not sure that that answer would satisfy an anxious young voter, but let’s move on.”
Responding to Wasserman Schultz’s comments, Hot Air’s Jazz Shaw voiced concerns that the superdelegate system seems to be disenfranchising Sen. Sanders’ voters and asked, “There were a total of 151,584 votes cast for Bernie Sanders, giving him 15 delegates. That means that 10,105 people had to drag themselves out in the snow for each delegate he received. Why should voters have any faith in a system where one person appointed by the party leadership can cancel out the votes of more than ten thousand people who chose the other candidate?”
In other words, it could make the primary elections meaningless. Bernie could end up decisively winning the popular vote but still have the nomination stripped away from him at this summer’s convention.