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MEMORANDUM TO: FROM: DATE: RE: Members of the Republican National Committee and Interested Parties RNC Counsel’s Office February 11, 2011 New Timing Rules for 2012 Republican Presidential Nominating Schedule
On August 6, 2010, the Republican National Committee (“RNC”) amended the timing rules pertaining to the 2012 presidential nomination process. It is crucial that those responsible in each state for determining the timing and process for selecting, allocating or binding delegates to the 2012 Republican National Convention are aware of these changes so that they can make sure their state is in compliance. The new requirements, contained in Rule No. 15(b) of The Rules of the Republican Party (the “Rules”), as well as important background and interpretive information, are contained herein.
I. Text and Summary of New Timing Rules The following Rule No. 15(b) language will govern the 2012 Republican presidential nomination schedule. This amended language is followed by a brief summary of the recommended amendments. Rule No. 15: Election, Selection, Allocation, or Binding of Delegates and Alternate Delegates (b) Timing. (1) No primary, caucus, or convention to elect, select, allocate, or bind delegates to the national convention shall occur prior to the first Tuesday in March in the year in which a national convention is held. Except Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada may begin their processes at any time on or after February 1 in the year in which a national convention is held and shall not be subject to the provisions of paragraph (b)(2) of this rule. (2) Any presidential primary, caucus, convention, or other meeting held for the purpose of selecting delegates to the national convention which occurs prior to the first day of April in the year in which the national convention is held, shall provide for the allocation of delegates on a proportional basis.
(3) If the Democratic National Committee fails to adhere to a presidential primary schedule with the dates set forth in Rule 15(b)(1) of these Rules (February 1 and first Tuesday in March), then Rule 15(b) shall revert to the Rules as adopted by the 2008 Republican National Convention. Subsection (1) of the amended language moves the beginning dates of the 2012 presidential nominating process to later in the year; no earlier than February 1 for the states of New Hampshire and South Carolina; and it provides that Iowa and Nevada are also included in the list of states allowed to go earlier in the process. Similarly, Subsection (1) moves the beginning date for all other states later to no earlier than the first Tuesday in March. Furthermore, it excludes the four states allowed to begin their processes in February from the new proportionality provision. The new Subsection (2) requires that any state holding its presidential nominating process prior to April 1 include some form of proportional delegate allocation, as determined by the state. Any state holding its process on or after April 1 would still be allowed to allocate delegates on a winner-take-all basis. The new Subsection (3) provides that if the Democratic National Committee (“DNC”) fails to adhere to similar start dates as set forth in the amended Rule No. 15(b), the start dates revert to the original dates currently found in The Rules of the Republican Party. It is important to note that the DNC has adopted those dates, and therefore, the new Rule No. 15(b) is and (barring a highly unlikely last-minute change by the DNC) will remain in effect.
II. History of the Amendment to Rule No. 15(b) The 2008 Republican National Convention created the Temporary Delegate Selection Committee (the “Committee”) with the addition of Rule 10(d) in the Rules, with the following mission: “to review the timing of the election, selection, allocation, or binding of delegates and alternate delegates pursuant to Rule No. 15(b) of these rules to the 2012 Republican National Convention.” This Rule explicitly established the composition of the Committee membership to include members of the RNC as well as Republican nonMembers. In addition, it clearly stated that any recommendations proposed by the Committee must be presented to the full membership of the RNC at the 2010 RNC Summer Meeting. The Rule also explicitly provided that the recommendations “shall be voted upon without amendment by the Republican National Committee” and “shall require a two-thirds (2/3) vote to be adopted.” This language represents the first time that a Republican National Convention has given the RNC limited flexibility to change the Rules between national conventions. This new authority allowed the RNC to work with the Democratic Party for the first time in developing a consensus presidential nominating schedule that attempts to avoid a national primary.
III. Proportional Allocation Requirement for Nominating Processes Held Before April 1st Any state (other than the four states allowed to conduct their processes in February) conducting its process prior to April 1, 2012 must allocate its delegates proportionally, but the definition of “proportional allocation” is left to each state’s individual discretion, subject to a final determination in accordance with the Rules. The determination to leave the definition to a state’s discretion is in recognition of the Republican Party’s established practice of allowing each state to determine its delegate selection process. The RNC desires to avoid encroaching upon each state’s authority as much as possible, while at the same time balancing the needs of both promoting order within the process and allowing more states to be involved in the selection of the Republican presidential nominee. As a result, the amended Rule No. 15(b) reflects a compromise of requiring “proportional allocation” in some form for states conducting their process earlier in the schedule, while leaving the definition to the discretion of each state and giving states that want to award their delegates on a winner-take-all basis the freedom to do so as long as they wait until at least April 1st. The Committee thoroughly discussed the definition of “proportional allocation” and adopted some language during its May 5, 2010 meeting to help provide guidelines associated with the new provision that the Committee determined would allow a state to comply with the proportionality requirement. These guidelines were provided to the full RNC in advance of the RNC’s vote approving the rule change and constitute important legislative history that the RNC recommends states take into account in crafting proportional allocation rules: “‘Proportional allocation basis’ shall mean that delegates are allocated in proportion to the voting results, in accordance with the following criteria: i. Proportional allocation of total delegates based upon the number of statewide votes cast in proportion to the number of statewide votes received by each candidate shall be the default formula for calculating delegate allocation, if no specific language is otherwise provided by a state. ii. If total delegate allocation is split between delegates at-large and delegates by congressional district, delegates at-large must be proportionally allocated based upon the total statewide results. iii. If total delegate allocation is split between delegates at-large and delegates by congressional district, delegates by congressional district may be allocated as designated by the state based upon the total congressional district results. iv. A state may establish a minimum threshold of the percentage of votes received by a candidate that must be reached below which a candidate may receive no delegates, provided such threshold is no higher than 20%.
v. A state may establish a minimum threshold of the percentage of votes received by a candidate that must be reached above which the candidate may receive all the delegates, provided such threshold is no lower than 50%. vi. Proportional allocation is not required if the delegates either are elected independently on a primary ballot not in accordance with a primary presidential candidate’s slate or are not bound at any time to vote for a particular candidate.” These parameters are included here to provide important guidance. Each state’s “proportional allocation” system is left to the state’s discretion, but substantial departure from these guidelines carries significant risk that not all delegates will be seated. IV. Conclusion The decision to move the entire presidential nominating calendar later to begin in February was a joint recommendation by both the Republican and Democratic committees tasked with revising the 2012 presidential nominating schedule. With both major parties working together to promote a uniform scheduling window for states to hold their individual delegate selection processes, while also enforcing their own rules, it is the hope of both parties that a bipartisan cooperative effort will facilitate a more orderly process in 2012 in contrast to the chaotic schedule experienced in 2008. While some states will have to move their established presidential primary date, the RNC believes that it is in the best interest of the Republican Party that the entire nominating system begin later and be somewhat more spread out than in recent cycles. The RNC does not take lightly the reality that many Republican state parties will have to work with their Republican elected officials and Democratic counterparts in order to facilitate the necessary date and/or allocation method changes to stay compliant with the new Rule No. 15(b) requirements. With this difficulty in mind, RNC staff will be available to assist all state parties with their efforts to legislatively change the presidential primary dates as needed to comply with the revised Rules. We hope this memorandum offers a helpful explanation of the new presidential nomination timing rules. Please contact the RNC Counsel’s Office at (202) 863-8638 with any questions. There is only a short time for each state to take the steps necessary to ensure that it is in compliance with the amended Rule No. 15(b), and the Counsel’s Office will offer whatever assistance possible.
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