Wednesday, March 30, 2016

"WA Democrat Delegate Math"

On Saturday, I was the PCC  (Precinct Caucus Chair) for my Democrat precinct. Below are some of my thoughts. They might be helpful because Wyoming, Guam, Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, North Dakota all have caucuses left to go.

For me, with a very large precinct (Precinct 208-  1200 plus registered voters, 166 caucus votes, 10 allotted delegates), everything worked like clockwork. The experience was well planned, well administrated, no personal contention, excellent helpers, etc.  I want to really thank the generous and energetic Democrat volunteers, tech help from WCC and my excellent Tally Clerk and Secretary.  I didn't get the in-house training. I just memorized the 28 page Precinct Caucus  script. I only had four days because my PCO  had just moved so I was busy reading and thinking and simulating votes before Saturday morning. 

However, I had tables, my laptop, auditorium projector, wireless mic.  I kept the script on the big screen and also a spreadsheet I had designed to simulate delegate math.  I think it is important as a PCC to be funny, humble, helpful, honest, fair, ask for help, let people speak. We did four rounds of Bernie v. Hillary.  We had to because it takes a while to count 166 sheets! Our Tally Clerk  actually numbered the corners sequentially of each voter's sheet she received as if she had been trained as a database professional! People really enjoyed speaking. I really had a great though exhausting morning. One subject that has come up is discussion afterwards is precinct caucus math. Below is my take on this math and the delegate selection process.

WA Democrat caucus 'delegate math' is a part of participatory democracy. Since it is not "winner take all" electoral math like almost all of the states will use to decide who is the next President in the Fall, the WA Democrat's math offers the minority and the uncommitted a voice at the convention provided they have enough votes to receive at least one delegate.  If ((Candidate Totals/All Voters) * Precinct Delegate count) doesn't take you to a large enough fraction to be counted as at least 1, then no delegates for you! Such is the nature of proportional reduction that must result in an integer because it would hard to send 1/2 or 1/4 of  Delegate to any convention!  

There will be another winnowing or proportional reduction at the LD (Legislative District) convention. Reputedly 230K caucus goers just elected 19,159 (Bernie) + 7,140 (Clinton) = 26,299 county level delegates to represent our votes at the precinct level in WA. Whatcom will apparently skip the County delegation and go straight to the LD convention on May 1st. After that, CD (Congressional District) and State Convention come next.  From the  2016 Caucus and Convention Cycle Guide (emphasis added in bold -RMF)
"Congressional District (CD) Caucuses  Delegates and alternates elected at the legislative district caucuses are expected to attend a congressional district caucus on Saturday, May 21 st . The congressional district caucuses will elect 67 delegates to the National Convention. Each congressional district caucus will also elect one presidential elector and one alternate.
State Convention  Delegates and alternates elected at the legislative district caucuses also serve as delegates and alternates to State Convention, which will be held from Friday, June 17 th through Sunday, June 19 th in Tacoma. The State Convention will elect presidential electors, adopt a state party platform, and address resolutions. In addition, those members of the Washington State Democratic Central Committee who represent Legislative Districts will meet on Sunday, June 19th to elect 12 Pledged Party Leaders and Elected Official delegates (PLEOs), 22 at-large delegates and 7 alternates to the National Convention."
But back to last weekend's caucus math. The Democrat delegate math takes a percentage for all the candidates of all total votes which includes uncommitted and multiplies ('weights the precinct votes') by the allotted precinct delegates:

((Candidate Totals/All precinct caucus participants) * Precinct Delegate count) 

The purpose is obviously to take the percentage of all votes for that candidate and weight them by that precinct's allotted delegate count. The result for any medium or larger size precinct is probably going to be a fractional number (not an integer).  But a delegate isn't fractional.We elect a whole person. What happens next really isn't rounding. I believe the correct spreadsheet function is probably floor() or whatever takes lowest bound integer of a fractional result. So: 

floor((Candidate Totals/All precinct caucus Participants) * Precinct Delegate count)

What comes next is the compromise for the fractional part of each vote. Here is a kind of spreadsheet "pseudo code":

IF (CandidateA fraction > CandidateB fraction;Add 1 vote to CandidateA ;Else CandidateA whole number delegate count remains the same)

IF (CandidateB fraction > CandidateA fraction;Add 1 vote to CandidateB;Else CandidateB whole number delegate count remains the same)

This doesn't necessarily result in a proportional ratio of delegates that is equal to the ratio of the original total votes between candidates. In fact, it can't be for almost any case in which the votes for the original candidates are not equal. The delegate ratio is either more or less than the popular vote ratio, dependent on which direction the fractional reduction math results in. Here are some examples:

Delegates Participants Bernie Votes Hillary Votes Bernie B_floor Hillary H_floor B_frac H_frac Bernie Score Hillary Score Ratio of Pop – Ratio of Del
10 164 126 33 7.68 7 2.01 2 0.68 0.01 8.00 2.00 -0.18
10 166 130 34 7.83 7 2.05 2 0.83 0.05 8.00 2.00 -0.18

Delegates were assigned to each precinct by how they voted for President Obama in 2012.  Page 23 of the Washington State Delegate Plan allows that : 
"In precincts that have the same boundaries as existed on Tuesday, November 6, 12 2012, each precinct shall be entitled to elect one (1) delegate and one (1) alternate for each seventy five (75) votes or portion thereof cast in the 2012 general election  for Barack Obama for President."
Both the allotment and the number of uncommitted are dependent variables for the eventual delegate selection and  those numbers can change the result for each precinct. But keep in mind, these may be DNC specified procedures.The official documents describing the WA caucus process for Caucus leaders online:
Here's the page that gives us the County by County outcome. Whatcom County had the seventh highest turnout for Bernie. Top ten counties for total delegate turnout were:

CountyHillary ClintonBernie SandersUncommittedOtherTotal


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