Six individuals are running to chair the South Dakota Democratic Party. How do we choose our chair?
As I’ve explained previously, the state party constitution only specifies that state party officers be chosen by weighted vote of the state central committee. The party constitution specifies no run-off procedures, so the election must default to Robert’s Rules of Order, which say that voting continues until one candidate receives a majority. My 10th Edition of Robert’s says no candidate has to withdraw:
The nominee receiving the lowest number of votes is never removed from the next ballot unless the bylaws so require, or unless he withdraws—which, in the absence of a bylaw, he is not obligated to do. The nominee in lowest place may turn out to be a “dark horse” on whom all factions may prefer to agree [Henry M. Robert III et al., “Nominations and Elections,” Robert’s Rules of Order, 10th Edition, 2000, pp. 426–427].
Now the party executive board, which includes the officers who are up for election on March 23, apparently wants a brief chair election, guaranteed to last no more than one hour. To that end, the executive board has recommended an election with no more than two votes:
- Each candidate gets a one-minute nomination speech and a five-minute floor speech.
- The central committee then votes.
- If one candidate wins a simple majority of weighted votes on that first round, then habemus sellam! (er, praesem!)
- If no candidate clears 50%, the top two vote-getters go on a final ballot.
- The run-off candidates and their allies get ten minutes to whip votes, then the committee votes, and we’re done.
Article 8 Section 3 empowers the executive board to make this recommendation, but the full state central committee has to vote on whether that’s how they want to vote. And that vote on election procedure is not weighted; it’s a straight nose count (they’ll count ayes, too). A vote from Sioux Falls will count 16 times as much as a vote from Pine Ridge in the chair election, but votes from Pine Ridge will be equal to votes from Sioux Falls in deciding how to conduct that election.
Central committee members wanting to get a jump on briefing out the candidates can watch this video, provided by Brookings County Democratic Party chair Mary Perpich, of last Saturday’s chair candidate forum: