Render: Election math needs explaining

Both major political parties hold state quadrennial conventions every four years.

Rube Render

Rube Render

The purpose of these conventions is to elect delegates who will attend a national convention and cast their votes for a presidential nominee.

For the last three presidential election cycles, the nominee of the Republican party has already been decided by the time of the New Mexico primary and there was little or no discussion of how delegates would vote.

This primary, with all its uncertainties, brings more choices to the table.

On May 21, Republicans will convene their quadrennial convention. They will elect 24 delegates to attend the national convention in July and cast their votes to nominate the Republican presidential candidate.

How the delegates will vote at the national convention is determined by the Election Code contained in the “Election Handbook of the State Of New Mexico,” Chapter 1, Article 15A-9, “National convention.”

The above article (paraphrased) states that the vote from each party, “shall be cast on the first presidential nomination ballot of the national convention by the chairman of the delegation … as follows: each candidate shall be entitled to a share of the total vote allotted to the delegation that is equal to the proportion that the vote he received in the presidential primary….”

Further, “no candidate shall be excluded who has received at least fifteen percent of the total vote cast for candidates for president of that party…”

For ease of explanation, assume we have three candidates and 100,000 votes are cast.

Candidate A receives 50,000 votes and candidates B and C receive 25,000 votes each.

Candidate A would then have 50 percent of the 24 delegates at the convention or 12 votes. Candidates B and C would each have six votes or 25 percent of the 24 delegates.

What could easily happen in this primary is that only two of the candidates on the ballot will have “reached at least fifteen percent of the total votes cast” as stated in the Election Code.

In that case assume the following with the same 100,000 votes cast:

Candidate A receives 50,000 votes, candidate B receives 40,000 votes and candidate C receives 10,000 votes.

Candidate C fails to reach the 15 percent threshold. In that case, the total votes cast for the candidates who reached 15 percent is 90,000 and, mathematically, candidate A received 55 percent of the vote that equates to 13.2 delegates (24 times .55) while candidate B received 44 percent of the vote that equates to 10.56 delegates (24 times .44).

Then candidate C receives zero delegates.

Rounding the decimals results in 13 plus 11, which equals 24 delegates.

After the first ballot, delegates are uncommitted.

I owe a debt of gratitude to Ed Cassidy, long time chairman of the Republican Party rules committee, for his help with this explanation.

Rube Render is the Curry County Republican chairman. Contact him at: