How Sanders wants to change the role of superdelegates

Bernie Sanders plans to address primary election anomalies at the Democratic National Convention later this month.

Evan Vucci/AP
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders leaves a meeting hosted by Senate Democrats with Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, July 14,

Bernie Sanders may have conceded the Democratic nomination and endorsed Hillary Clinton on Tuesday, but he is still fighting on at least one front: Superdelegates.

Since it became evident that Senator Sanders did not have enough support to win the Democratic nomination, in either delegates or direct votes, he has been using his party influence to push Mrs. Clinton’s platform to the left, securing her support on a $15 national minimum wage, tougher regulations on fracking, and a public option in Obamacare.

The Vermont senator plans to continue to push his platform at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia later this month, in an attempt to amend the system of superdelegates.

“We have some serious concerns, and I expect some of those concerns may wind up on the floor of the convention,” Sanders told the Washington Post.

Unlike regular delegates who must represent the popular vote, superdelegates are free to support any candidate in the nomination for president. Superdelegates include party leaders, elected officials such as President Obama, and all Democratic senators, representatives, and governors.

While Clinton beat Sanders in acquiring regular delegates throughout the primaries and caucuses 2,205 to 1,846, her biggest advantage was the number of superdelegates who pledged to support her – hundreds even before Sanders joined the race. The Associated Press reports that Clinton has the support of 602 superdelegates, while Sanders currently has 48.

Sanders does not want to do away with superdelegates entirely, according to reports, but he wants to reduce their numbers and their influence over choosing the party’s presidential nominee. He says he'll present proposed rules to a committee on July 25 prior to the convention. If successful, the proposed changes could be debated among all convention delegates.

But some party observers are worried that a debate of this kind is not what the Democratic Party needs right now, as it seeks to unify a divided electorate before November. In fact, unity is the prominent theme of the convention, according to the convention schedule, which includes a speech from Sanders on the first night of the convention. President Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, first lady Michelle Obama, and Bill Clinton are also scheduled to speak during the four-day convention. 

Co-chair of the convention rules committee Rep. Barney Frank (D) of Massachusetts told the Washington Post that he expects robust debate over Sanders's proposal when his panel convenes next Saturday.

The changes Sanders will be pushing will not affect his race against Clinton, to the disappointment of many Sanders supporters.

In addition to addressing the influence of superdelegates over the primary election process, Sanders also reportedly wants to press the Democratic party to allow independents as well as Democrats to vote in all state primaries and caucuses, and “encourage and incentivize” states that hold caucuses to expand voting hours so that more people would be able to vote.

“Democrats should be welcoming people into their processes, not keeping them out,” Sanders told the Washington Post.

Sanders tended to do better against Clinton in the caucuses than the primaries. But critics note that more voters participate in primaries than caucuses. 

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