Convention Delegates FAQ’s

This was sent via email earlier today by National Committeeman Ron Kaufman.


Wanted to share information pertaining to our 2016 convention and delegates. This week we launched a website – – to help answer questions about the rules, delegates, and how the overall process works in a simple, easy to understand format.

– Reince

Republican National Convention FAQs

What is the purpose of the Republican National Convention?

The Republican National Convention has met every four years since 1856 with the purpose of conduct party business.  The Republican National Convention convenes to adopt a party platform, the rules to govern the party, and, of course to nominate a presidential and vice presidential candidate.

Before each convention begins, delegates must meet to adopt rules by which it will operate.  This is the procedure the RNC has operated under for 160 years to ensure the process is consistent and orderly and is the way nearly any organization from a local PTA to the U.S. Congress conducts their business.

How does a candidate become the Republican presidential nominee?

The presidential nominee is selected by the delegates, elected by their respective states, to the Republican National Convention.  It takes a simple majority vote by the delegates to win the nomination.  There will be 2,472 delegates to the 2016 convention, which means that a candidate must receive the votes of 1,237 delegates to win the nomination.

How are convention delegates selected? 

It depends on state party rule or state law. Typically delegates are selected at district or state conventions or on the primary ballot.

What is the difference between bound and unbound delegates?

Most delegates will be required to vote for certain candidates at the convention, generally based on the primary or caucus vote in their state.  These delegates are called bound delegates.  A minority of delegates will be unbound delegates – they may vote for any candidate they wish.

Why are some delegates unbound? 

Most delegates are bound according to the results of a state’s presidential preference vote (primary, caucus, convention).  There are only six states/territories that do not have a presidential preference vote (ND, WY, CO, Guam, American Samoa and US Virgin Islands) and whose delegates will, in large part, remain unbound.   How long (how many ballots) a delegate is bound is based on state party rule or state law.

What is an open convention? 

If a candidate for president does not get to a majority of bound delegates during the primary and caucus process, the delegates—selected and empowered by the grassroots—will elect the nominee for our party. It is a democratic process in which the candidate supported by the majority will win. Republicans will leave Cleveland united and ready to win in November.

What role does the RNC play during the actual convention? 

The RNC plays a facilitating role focused on ensuring an open and transparent convention. The RNC’s role is administrative – it does not influence the selection of a nominee.

Why do the convention delegates select a presidential nominee? 

Delegates are elected at the grassroots level by their peers to represent their state at the Convention. Under Rules that have existed throughout the history of the Republican Party, national convention delegates select the Republican nominee by a majority vote.

Can states change rules for how delegates are allocated before the national convention?

No. State parties were required to file their plans for selecting and allocating with the RNC on or before October 1, 2015.

What is the difference between RNC Members and the Democrats’ superdelegates? 

The Republican Party does not have superdelegates. The three RNC members from each state (State Chairman, National Committeeman & National Committeewoman) are elected by the grassroots in their state.  They are automatic national convention delegates who are bound based on of their statewide presidential preference poll. The Democrat superdelegates, on the other hand, are elected officials and party elites who are not bound.

What is the role of state conventions in selecting delegates? 

The majority of states select their delegates at state conventions, which are typically in April and May this year. The exact procedure varies by state, but state convention delegates are given an opportunity to vote on delegate candidates to represent their state at the national convention.

If a delegate is unable to attend the national convention, how is a replacement or alternate selected? 

Alternate delegates are selected at the same time and in the same manner as delegates. If a delegate cannot attend the convention, the alternate will take his or her place. If both the delegate and alternate cannot attend, then the vacancy is filled under state party rule.

Is each delegate limited to one vote, or, in other words, can one individual vote on behalf of several delegates? 

Every delegate has one vote, and there are no proxy votes.

What restrictions are placed on campaigns and other organizations with respect to influencing the opinions or votes of delegates?  

If a state has a presidential preference vote, delegates are bound according to the results of that vote and the state’s allocation method. In the case of unbound delegates, presidential campaigns (and other political organizations) may reach out to them and try to win their support for a candidate.

How is the Convention Rules Committee formed? 

The Convention Rules Committee and the three other convention committees (Credentials, Platform, and Permanent Organization) are all elected in the same manner.   The delegates to the National Convention for each state vote for two delegates (1 man, 1 woman) from their state delegation to represent the delegation on each committee.

Why is a new set of convention rules adopted every four years?

Convention rules are established by the delegates at convention.  After the convention, the rules governing the proceedings of that convention act as placeholder rules until the next convention. The current rules were established by 2012 delegates for the 2012 convention.  The 2016 delegates will adopt a new set of rules for the 2016 convention and new rules to govern the Republican Party until the 2020 convention meets and adopts the rules that will govern the 2020 convention

Who picks the chairman of the Convention Rules committee? 

Under The Rules of the Republican Party, the RNC Chairman is responsible for appointing the Convention Rules Committee chairman.

Are RNC members on the Convention Rules committee? 

Only if they are elected by their delegation to be on the Convention Rules Committee. They are not automatically on the Convention Rules Committee.

What is the RNC’s role in the rules process? 

Neither Chairman Priebus nor any RNC staff play a role in amending the Rules. The RNC Standing Rules Committee is composed of one RNC member from every state and territory, and is a responsible for suggesting changes to the Rules. The power to change the rules, however, rests with the Convention Rules Committee and ultimately the Delegates to the National Convention.

When do rule changes go into effect? 

Rule changes go into effect when the Rules are adopted at the beginning of the convention.

Do all of the delegates have a vote on any changes that come out of the Convention Rules Committee? 

Yes. The package of Rules that come out of the Convention Rules Committee is voted on as a whole by all of the delegates elected to the Convention.

Do rule changes require a simple majority to pass? 

Yes, at Convention Rules Committee, rule changes require a majority vote to pass. (57 votes, if all members are present and vote).  Similarly, the adoption of the final rules report requires a majority vote of the convention delegates.

When a candidate drops out of the race, do delegates who are bound to that candidate become unbound and free to choose another candidate? 

Every state is different in how they handle this situation. Some states’ delegates become unbound; others’ do not.


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