Reforming the presidential nomination contest: the mandate of the DNC Unity and Reform Commission

Reforming the presidential nomination contest: the mandate of the DNC Unity and Reform Commission

(First of a series)

On Dec. 8 and 9, in Washington, D.C, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) Unity and Reform Commission (URC), a commission created by DNC at the 2016 national convention in July 2016, will meet for the final time to discuss, debate, and adopt recommendations regarding reforms to the presidential nomination contest for 2020. These recommendations will be submitted to the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee by January 1. 2018, who are charged with considering these recommendations within six months or the recommendations are to be submitted to the full membership of the DNC for consideration and a vote.

The URC is comprised of 21 members. By mandate of the DNC enabling resolution, the members were chosen as follows:

[The URC] shall consist of 21members including a chair and vice-chair, all with the right to vote on Commission business.The chair shall be Jennifer O’Malley Dillon and the vice-chair Larry Cohen. Secretary Clinton shall appoint nine members of the Commission and Senator Sanders shall appoint seven members of the Commission.  The remaining three members shall be appointed by the National Chair of the DNC.

So what exactly is the URC charged to do? The DNC enabling resolution spells it out clearly:

the Unity Reform Commission shall consider and make appropriate recommendations regarding revisions to the Delegate Selection Rules for the 2020 Democratic National Convention with respect to the manner of voting used during the presidential nominating process with a goal of increasing voter participation and inclusion through grassroots engagement of the Party’s voter base during and in-between presidential election cycles. The Commission shall make recommendations to encourage the expanded use of primary elections. [. . . ] The Commission shall make specific recommendations regarding the steps necessary to ensure that, in states where caucuses are conducted, eligible voters’ ability to participate in the caucuses are protected. The Commission shall make recommendations as to how caucuses can be less burdensome and more inclusive, transparent and accessible to participants. Specific consideration shall be given to so-called firehouse caucuses and other methods that will permit expanded and higher volumes of voter participation. These steps shall include ensuring caucuses are well-run,accessible, transparent and that the delegates allocated to the national convention fairly reflect the will of the voters expressed during the caucuses. The Commission shall make specific recommendations to streamline the caucus realignment process, including measures to accommodate increased voter participation and decrease the time necessary to conduct the caucus. (My emphasis)

As you can see, the DNC resolution is quite pointed and specific on what the commission is to have as an objective and designates specific steps with regard to the use of primaries and caucuses. First and foremost, the commission is to “encourage the expanded use of primary elections.”

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