Despite attention to primaries, your vote doesn’t matter, delegate says

Curly Haughland, of Bismarck, N.D., makes a compelling reason why you shouldn’t pay much attention to those lectures about your duty to vote in primary elections: You don’t matter.

Speaking with NPR’s Steve Inskeep this morning, Haughland, a delegate to this summer’s Republican National Convention in Cleveland and a member of its rules committee, said the votes of people who vote in primaries are “absolutely irrelevant,” something that’s become obvious to even casual voters watching the GOP’s gymnastics to deny Donald Trump the party’s endorsement.

At least he was honest enough to say it.

“A longstanding tradition in the Republican Party that began in 1880 or earlier is the fact that all delegates to the national convention are free to vote their conscience,” he maintained.

That conflicts with what the media has reported, Inskeep said, that delegates who are pledged to Trump will have to vote for Trump on the first ballot.

“It’s been in there [the rules] since 1880 when James Garfield wrote the language that’s still in Rule 37,” he insisted.

Point of order,sir. It’s not. At least not in Rule 37.

Here’s Rule 37 from the last Republican convention.


That’s not to say the rules can’t be rewritten to favor whatever the power brokers of the convention want it to say.

“The RNC probably can exercise that power to bind or unbind,” Gregory Magarian, professor of law at Washington University in St. Louis, tells CNBC. “But what matters here is not the law but politics. Reaction from the voters, delegates, party regulars saying if the RNC stepped in it would be ‘unfair and improper.’ This is more about structural politics. As a matter of law the RNC could step in and do whatever it wants to do. But if they stepped in it would be seen as a power grab.”

And it would underscore Haughland’s assertion that, unless you’re a delegate to the convention, it doesn’t matter what presidential candidate you think you were supporting in a primary or caucus. You don’t matter.