updated June 30, 2016)
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has been a lot of discussion about whether delegates to the July 18-21,
2016 Republican Party National Convention are bound to vote for a
specific candidate. A new book, Unbound: The
Conscience of a Republican Delegate
identifies the historical and legal basis for the authority of the
delegates attending the convention. The book makes a strong case that
delegates are not bound to vote for any particular candidate based on
primary and caucus results, state party rules, or even state law. The
book documents the nearly 240 instances at past conventions in which
delegates have invoked their right to vote their conscience.
The key points:
language adopted at the 1880 convention, specifically to ensure
delegates could not be bound by the unit rule, instructions from the
state party, or other methods of binding, have been part of the
convention rules for 136 years and remain part of the temporary rules
heading into Cleveland as Rule 37(b). There is no language supporting
binding in the temporary rules of the convention, which are the only
rules that matter.
- The Republican Party has rejected state laws
purporting to bind delegates to primary or caucus outcomes from the
beginning, starting with the 1912 convention when the Illinois and
Oregon delegations voted contrary to the primary results and in
defiance of their state laws.
- On the single occasion in which
the Republican National Convention recognized binding, 1976, it
required a rule change to the original 1880 language, and that rule
change was promptly removed in 1980 reverting back to the original
Simply stated, barring any rules changes at the
convention, delegates can vote their conscience on the first ballot.
Delegates Unbound is
bring long term reform to the Republican
Party. Our primary focus is on educating delegates that they are
unbound and free to vote as they see fit on all matters before the
Republican National Convention, including whomever they wish to be the
Republican nominee for President.
Ed. note: This effort is founded on Unbound:The Conscience of a Republican Delegate, the book by Curly Haugland and Sean Parnell. It ran a TV ad, "Follow Your Conscience," starting June 25, 2016.