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(page updated June 30, 2016)

      Delegates Unbound  |  |

About Delegates Unbound

There 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:

- The 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 language.

Simply stated, barring any rules changes at the convention, delegates can vote their conscience on the first ballot.

Delegates Unbound is a not-for-profit working to 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.