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Apr 04 2016
by Bianca D'Agostino

What is a Contested Convention?

By Bianca D'Agostino - Apr 04 2016
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Anyone can clearly see that the Republican Party is in major divide this election year--you're either a strong Ted Cruz supporter, a ruthless Donald Trump advocate, wondering why John Kasich is still in the running, or still mourning the campaign suspension of Marco Rubio. Either way, the party is more divided and un-unified than it has ever been in history. Because of this, the candidates are not reaching the majority votes required to be the Republican Nominee, 1,237 delegate votes, as stated in the Rule 40 of the Republican Party. With the primary voting on its way to closing up shop, the inevitable contested convention is seeming more and more possible each day. But wait--what even is a contested convention? For those of you asking that question, here's a breakdown:

What is a Convention? 

A Convention is caused by the candidates of a specific party (for the sake of clarity we are going to use the Republican Party for the rest of this as an example since it is most likely to occur with this party) not receiving the magic number of delegates:  1,237. 

Delegates are earned by candidates through primary voting, which is going on right now! In each state there is a lot of voting going on, and whichever candidate has the most votes in that state will get the majority of the delegates (unless it is a state like Florida that is a winner-take-all state). 

So, with the party so divided, people are voting all across the board and splitting up the votes and delegates so much that a single candidate is unable to get the number of votes required to be the nominee. This leads to the convention in which multiple rounds of voting occur by the delegates until a candidate is selected--this voting  can go on for days. 

What's the difference between that and a Brokered Convention? 

If anyone asks you this, it's almost like a trick question--there is so little difference between a contested convention and a brokered convention; some even go as to lumping the two together and calling the whole thing an "open convention.

The reason there is a slight difference is because it is technically not considered a brokered convention until the first round of voting, in which the delegates that we voted a candidate to have is required to vote for that candidate. 

For example, the 66 Ohio delegates are required to vote for John Kasich at the convention because he won the state of Ohio, but only for the first round of voting. If the first round of voting does not result in a nominee selected, then yet another round commences and the delegates are free to choose who they personally want to vote for, thus signaling the start of a brokered convention

Another "highlight" of this idea is that the Republican party can come in with their "white knight candidate" (as stated by Ted Cruz), meaning the party can add someone who they want into the race, like a write-in. Some are saying this potential write-in would be current Republican Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, who was also the former running mate of Mitt Romney in 2012. 

What does this mean for YOUR vote? 

Your vote may no longer really matter. I know, that's pretty rude.

The votes we made would no longer hold water to the case of a brokered convention, because after the first round of voting in the convention, the delegates that you earned for a candidate are no longer obligated to represent who you want to win the nomination. They can be persuaded by lobbyists and donors to vote for a different candidate, or they can vote for any candidate they personally support. 

The point is that your vote would be overshadowed by the delegates of the Republican party, which is just not fair. Some people think that maybe this is for the best, as people are truly opposed to the idea of President Trump or President Cruz, and with the Republican establishment so against these two candidates it would seem unlikely for either to win the nomination. 

But is that really what democracy is all about? Having a select few represent a whole party? 

If a contested convention were to break out, it may not be such a bad thing--your vote is still being taken into account. But a brokered convention in which delegates have "free reign" would inevitably lead to even more disdain and resentment to the Republican Party. 


Lead Image Credit:  flickr.com/photos/matthewpaulson 


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Bianca D'Agostino - University of Connecticut

Bianca is a freshman at the University of Connecticut majoring in business and minoring in communications and international business. She political articles and loves to be involved on her campus. Bianca loves to read, run, knit and craft. You can follow her on Instagram @biancadag!

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