Complaints of ‘Rigged’ Delegate System Follow Trump Loss in Colorado


Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump has blasted the party's delegate-selection process as "rigged" and "corrupt" after rival Sen. Ted Cruz swept up all of Colorado's 34 delegates this weekend.

On the Democratic side, Sen. Bernie Sanders and his supporters have been sharply critical of a process that has inflated former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's delegate lead thanks in large part to so-called "superdelegates" – party officials who can vote for whomever they choose, irrespective of voter preferences.

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So how is the process likely to play out? And are we likely to see a contested Republican convention for the first time in 40 years?

Nick Kachiroubas, associate teaching professor at DePaul University’s School of Public service, explained the parties’ rules.

“There are these ideas of the parties maintaining some amount of control, even though there are these elected delegates. The Democrats have the superdelegates. The Republicans actually have [control] through their party leadership,” Kachiroubas said. “So on the Republican side, I would argue Trump has less of an argument than Bernie Sanders would have.”

Noah Kaplan, assistant professor of political science at the University of Illinois at Chicago, said while some might argue that the current system is unfair, in some ways it’s there to quell any chaos at the convention.

“The parties want a process that facilitates a selection of an optimal candidate that the party can rally around. One might decry the use of superdelegates, for example as being ‘undemocratic.’ But at the same time, you don’t want a convention that goes five, 10, 15, 20 ballots to select a representative,” Kaplan said.

Kachiroubas said while the parties are there to make sure their factions are represented, they’re also there to ensure the system is maintained. For that reason, it’s difficult to change the parties’ processes.

“I think there can be some changes, and people will call for those. But the problem becomes [that] the people that are eligible to make these changes in both parties become the party leaders … and so that’s who you need to change in order to make changes to these processes,” Kachiroubas said.


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