Democrats took their first official steps Saturday to reduce the power of unpledged delegates in presidential primaries, with the Democratic National Committee voting to “revise the role and reduce the perceived influence” of superdelegates before the next election. That vote, which is likely to reduce the number of superdelegates by at least half, came after 21 months of debate that began at the party’s 2016 convention in Philadelphia. Saturday’s discussion found a party determined to move past the 2016 primaries between Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), in large part by reducing the power of the party’s establishment to pick a nominee. “These are changes that I’m confident that people all over this country want to see,” said Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), the party’s deputy chairman and one of few Democratic members of Congress who backed Sanders for president. “I’m prepared to tell you that as a member of Congress, I don’t need more power than anybody else.”
Arguments about the conduct of primaries, the details of the DNC’s budget and whether caucuses could be more accessible to busy voters were punted to the summer. Anger at other party institutions, such as the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, still reverberates in the party’s liberal base. But DNC members said the perception that the 2016 race was “rigged” to assist Clinton was being corrected before the next presidential race.
“Ever since the 2016 election, we’ve seen that people from all sides want improvement at the DNC,” said Rep. Grace Meng (D-N.Y.), a party vice chair. “It’s an easy punching bag, but I think that’s why the DNC has been trying to reform itself.”
The suggestions passed Saturday would unwind much of what the DNC did in 1982, when superdelegates — party leaders and lower-level officials who were not bound to any voters’ preferences — were first empowered.