MPLS DFL Convention Countdown: Day Ten

We are having a bit more trouble getting our hands on the full delegate and alternate list for the Mpls DFL City Convention because the list we have lacks emails and phone numbers. We are aggressively seeking additional information for our list so that we can directly contact the attendees prior to the July 8th event. We encourage anyone interested to either provide us with the information or share it with people from the thirteen Wards. We will rely on social media to dissemination our information, and encourage our readers to make suggestions for different Twitter hashtags.

We will start as we did with the St Paul City Convention and recycle our tips and tricks. These are intended to provide information about conventions we believe are helpful pieces of information.  Again, if you have any suggestions we will accept them willingly and publish accordingly.

Convention Tips & Tricks

  1. If you are committed to a candidate, wear a t-shirt or at least a button, candidates have limited time to talk to people at a convention, and if you want the person you support to win, help them out by being well-identified.
  2. If you are uncommitted, do not wear buttons, or wear everyone’s button. If you seek to confuse candidate’s, and their campaigns being elusive is the best route.
  3. The best campaign has the best hospitality room. delegates and alternates are the purposes of why campaigns stock up on snacks, drinks and provide everything from bagels & coffee in the morning, to pizza and pop for lunch. Even if you support a specific candidate go to the other candidate’s rooms and see what they offer, they may try to sway you with gourmet coffee or some other tasty treat.

As we come into the Mpls City Convention we have learned a few interesting items. The Convention is going to be held at the Mpls Convention Center and will cost $30,000. The price tag will seem a great waste of money, especially if it fails to deliver a DFL endorsement in the mayoral contest, which is our expectation.

We are still awaiting the names of the Convention Co-Chairs, but have been informed Jason Cassady will be the Parliamentarian. This news comes as a pleasant surprise because Cassady has provided supporters of Ranked Choice as the Drop Rule a significant boost to their argument when he provided research on the issue for the DFL Constitution and Bylaws Commission and Rules Committee.

Rules Committee

One factor from the meeting of the Rules Committee evident to use is the inherent weakness of the Tom Hoch Campaign on the floor of the Convention. As we listened to the debate over the drop rules, thresholds, and speech time, it was clear Hoch has a weak hand. Despite having a majority on the Rules Committee, the Hoch campaign on agreed to a drop rule of 10% on any ballot prior to the next ballot being the final ballot. It did not change whether the ballots were limited to five, four or three, but the height of the threshold percentage their campaign would agree to was fixed at 10%.

This leads us to believe the Hoch campaign’s ceiling is close to 10%.

Another point during the Rules Committee meeting Ron Wacks attempted to pay the role as self-anointed broker and that is a fool’s errand Wacks should never be sought out or used as a medium for any conversation of substance. He was such a poor chair at the St Paul Ward One and Two Conventions, he was disinvited from chairing at the City Convention. Take heed and act accordingly.

Why RCV as the Drop Rule, is an Available Option.

Here is the following information we received prior to the St Paul City Convention.

Hi Shawn,

This email is in response to your question about the use of RCV as a drop rule.

Jason’s analysis below is specifically regarding the use of RCV to bestow an endorsement.  I have confirmed with Jason that his analysis does NOT address the use of RCV as a drop rule.

The DFL has historically granted wide latitude for rules committees and conventions to select a drop rule appropriate to their situation.  Units have used many different formulae, such as a percentage threshold, a percentage with an “elevator” that increases the percentage, drop all but the top 2, or RCV to the top 2 (among others).  The final ballot(s) for the endorsement must be done with non-RCV at a 60% threshold (as Jason describes).

*Our State DFL documents (Constitution and Bylaws, and Official Call) are silent on drop rules.*  However, the model rules for local unit conventions does include a drop rule, as do the Temporary and Proposed Permanent State Convention rules.

Kind regards, Chris Thorp Co-chair of the DFL State Constitution, Bylaws, and Rules Committee

Jason Cassady – drafter of the forwarded message below, Jill Garcia – Co-chair of the DFL State Constitution, Bylaws, and Rules Committee, Libby Kantner – Chair of the St. Paul DFL and Rick Varco – Vice Chair of the St. Paul DFL

———- Forwarded message ———-

I have reviewed our national and state party rules.  The only mention of Ranked Choice Voting is in the Official Call, where we have specifically permitted its use for the election of a party officer when only one position is open on the ballot (e.g., table officer, or filling a vacancy for a single director).  It is otherwise not prohibited, permitted, or addressed.

Turning back to the question at hand, when our documents are silent we are governed by Robert’s Rules of Order.  On Page 426 is the following:

While it is more complicated than other methods of voting in common use and is not a substitute for the normal procedure of repeated balloting until a majority is obtained, preferential voting is especially useful and fair in an election by mail if it is impractical to take more than one ballot. In such cases it makes possible a more representative result than under a rule that a plurality shall elect. It can be used with respect to the election of officers only if expressly authorized in the bylaws.  (emphasis added.)

First, I would note that Robert’s refers to ranked choice voting as “preferential voting” (see pages 426-28 for a full discussion).  Accordingly, I draw your attention to the fact that the first sentence of the above quotation does not permit use of ranked choice voting except when it is “impractical to take more than one ballot.”  While it may be desired to take only one ballot at a convention, it is not impractical.  Second, I direct your attention to the last sentence of the above quote, where it provides that ranked choice voting cannot be used to elect officers unless expressly authorized in the bylaws.  Robert’s does not really address endorsement as we use the term.  Rather, our endorsement is similar to an election which requires 60% and has the option of no election.  Thus, one could extrapolate from that sentence that because we do not expressly permit endorsement by use of ranked choice voting, we cannot use it.

Regardless of your position on the second point I have made, I believe the first point is directly on point, and it is not impractical to hold multiple ballots, and thus use of 2nd choice ballots, etc., via ranked choice voting is not permitted for endorsement.

I hope this email answers your question.

Thank you. Jason

Following my previous email, I consulted further with Jason, and am providing this email as follow-up.

RONR contains a mix of recommendations, requirements, and factual statements.  The language on “preferential voting” is a recommendation and not a requirement (“should” vs. “shall” or “must”).  The first portion of language cited by Jason is actually a recommendation and not a requirement. Roberts continues in that section, on page 428, to state:

The system of preferential voting just described should not be used in cases where it is possible to follow the normal procedure of repeated balloting until one candidate or proposition attains a majority. Although this type of preferential ballot is preferable to an election by plurality, it affords less freedom of choice than repeated balloting, because it denies voters the opportunity of basing their second or lesser choices on the results of earlier ballots, and because the candidate or proposition in last place is automatically eliminated and may thus be prevented from becoming a compromise choice. (emphasis mine)

If it were prohibited in all cases where it is otherwise possible to conduct repeated balloting, it would be “shall not” be used.

With our long standing practice of using drop rules in our endorsement process, we are largely subject to the negative effect cited by RONR against using preferential voting – namely that the last place is automatically eliminated (often subject to a percentage threshold).  We partially mitigate the negative effects by not dropping below 2 candidates.

Regarding the second portion, the prohibition on use for officer elections unless authorized by the bylaws, I see our endorsements more akin to other resolutions with multiple choices.  It is effectively a multiple-choice motion that permits future monetary and volunteer commitments to be made.

Regardless, it is clear that reasonable people can make different interpretations with respect to the language contained in RONR and endorsements, which include, but are not limited to:  (1) the above quoted language prohibits use of ranked choice voting for both the endorsement and the drop rule; and (2) that the extrapolation of the above language relating to an election is completely irrelevant and should not be consulted with respect to endorsements.

Given this fact, Jason and I now agree that the entire subject of ranked choice voting and endorsements is a gray area (which we will work to clarify with the CBRC for future cycles).  Accordingly, because the convention is the highest ranking body of an organization, we are inclined to defer to the will of that convention with respect to use or non-use of ranked choice voting as a drop rule.  While a gray area, drop rules vary wildly, and are not addressed in our party rules or RONR (either as a permitted activity or limited in any fashion).  Because we as a party have a long history of allowing conventions to establish their own drop rules as they see fit, it seems reasonable to us to believe that use of ranked choice voting as a drop rule would survive challenge (so long as no reallocated votes were used in issuing the endorsement).  See, e.g., the discussion on Custom on page 19 of RONR.

Although there is a reasonable argument that use of ranked choice voting is not prohibited for endorsement itself, we recommend against use of reallocated votes for endorsement.  This is political, practical advice.  As a matter of illustration, I would note that when the ranked choice voting procedures section was added to the Official Call, the CBRC debated whether to extend this authority to endorsements, and it was rejected.  While that rejection is not binding (i.e., no prohibition was voted upon and added to the rules), it is a window into the thinking of many CBRC members (especially given that the CBRC is made up of members statewide, and ranked choice voting is not generally as popular or widely supported outside of the metro).  So, for political, practical reasons to ensure that an endorsement could withstand a challenge, Jason and I advise that ranked choice voting not be used to reallocate votes in a manner which results in an endorsement.

Kind regards, Chris Thorp Co-chair of the DFL State Constitution, Bylaws, and Rules Committee



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