The Voter’s Speakeasy featuring unbiased reporting and insight into life at Project Vote Smart from our staff, interns, and volunteers.

What is a Contested Convention?

2016 May 26

Every four years the two major parties hold conventions to nominate their presidential candidates. For the last several decades, the Democratic and Republican presidential candidates were undisputed prior to the nominating conventions, following decisive primary and caucus victories.  However, historically, this hasn’t always been the case - Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Jimmy Carter, and Gerald Ford were all nominated from contested conventions.  And following an unusual primary season, we may see a contested convention for the first time in a long time.

What is contested convention?
A contested convention means no candidate has earned enough support going into the convention to guarantee their nomination. Candidates must secure a majority of delegates to win the nomination. Delegates cast their vote at the convention itself, making the candidate’s nomination official. Candidates earn delegate support through primary and caucus victories, and the support of superdelegates.  In an uncontested convention, the winner is a foregone conclusion, and voting never goes beyond the first round.  

Delegates vs Super Delegates
States participate in the process through a combination of delegates and super delegates. Delegates are often rank and file party members, while superdelegates are often  party officials, elected officials, or former elected officials.  In the Republican party, superdelegates make up 7 percent of total delegates, while in the Democratic party superdelegates make up 15 percent of total delegates. 

State delegates are divided up in proportion to the percentage of votes candidates received in their state’s primary or caucus, except in winner take-all-states, and a few states ...

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The Balancing Act of Determining Discrimination

2016 May 17

Multiple “religious freedom” bills are currently capturing the attention of state legislatures across the country. “Religious freedom” bills are proposed legislation that call for religious organizations, businesses, and individuals to be protected from penalties for declining to provide services to individuals whose lifestyle conflicts with their sincerely held religious beliefs.

May Common Ground E-Newsletter

2016 May 06

May Common Ground E-Newsletter: See what is going on at Vote Smart!

Political Research Wrap-Up: Spring 2016

2016 April 27

 Political news that you may have missed this spring

The Plan to Close Guantanamo Bay

2016 April 21

 For years, the Guantanamo Bay Naval Station, located in Cuba, has been used by the United States government to house potential threats to national security. Throughout its existence, it has been met with numerous accusations, scandals, and an ongoing debate over alleged human rights violations. Recently, President Barack Obama proposed a plan to effectively shut down the facility.

Polarization of the Supreme Court Vacancy

2016 April 13

 On February 13, 2016, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia passed away. According to the United State Constitution, the president-elect is responsible for nominating the replacement justice, and the Senate is then responsible for confirming or denying that nomination; however, some politicians are calling for President Barack Obama to abstain from the nomination, leaving 8 justices to make judicial decisions for almost a year.

Can Someone Please Tell Me What is Happening?

2016 March 31 - Richard Kimball

 Our political culture is shifting course on a galactic scale right in front of our slackened jaws. Its destination unknown?

Presidential Foreign Policies

2016 March 30

 ..foreign policy has become one of the main focuses of the election cycle. Each presidential candidate has their own take on foreign policy and America's role in the Middle East right now.

Bathroom bills bearing down on states across America

2016 March 11

 Emerging onto the floor of numerous state legislatures across the United States of America is a new and divisive kind of legislation: “bathroom bills.” Bathroom bills are proposed legislation that address whether individuals may use the bathroom that corresponds with the gender they identify with or with the gender they were assigned at birth. 

​A Monumental Development, Saving Time Through Automation

2016 February 10 - Jamieson Bates

 We thought automating the entry of key data was vital and we chose to start with the entry of scorecards (ratings) published by special interest groups of all kinds. I'm here to report that we have succeeded in this effort and are continuing this initiative even further. More to come on what is next, but I wanted to describe here what I am talking about.

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