By Greg Stempfle, Political Director
Precinct delegates are a quirky aspect of Michigan election law that the Libertarian Party of Michigan, our affiliates, and party members will have to deal with in 2018.
Under state election law, precinct delegates are elected officials whose sole responsibility is to attend and vote at political party county conventions. The laws about precinct delegates only apply to those parties qualified for the primary, which includes Libertarians for the first time.
There are three county conventions called for under Michigan election law (except for Wayne County).
Note: Wayne County does not hold a post-election convention. Instead, it is divided up by Congressional District and each district elects it’s own officers at a caucus held during the Spring State Convention.
The precinct delegate system is rather archaic and not rigidly adhered to by the Michigan Democratic Party, and to a lesser extent, the Michigan GOP. When drafting our so called major party bylaws last year, to bring them up to date with state law, the issue of precinct delegates was a challenge. The LPM largely chose not to adhere to election law where it applied to our officer elections and executive board makeup. Precinct delegates, while an internal party position, do play an indirect role in the nomination of statewide candidates at our Fall convention and therefore the party felt it was necessary to incorporate them into our bylaws. Precinct delegates will be on the August primary ballot regardless of whether the party wants it or not.
The LPM bylaws permit affiliates to opt out of the post-election county conventions, allowing affiliates to set their own dates for officer elections. The LPM bylaws do however require affiliates to accept precinct delegates to their county conventions as long as the party is qualified for the primary election. Being a precinct delegates is not a requirement to be a delegate to any state convention or county convention. The bylaws of the LPM, as well as the Michigan Democratic Party, allow party members to vote at state and county conventions even if they are not precinct delegates.
Any registered voter can become a precinct delegate including candidates for other public offices. The only requirement is filing a notarized Affidavit of Identity for Precinct Delegates by May 8, 2018. Each affiliate should encourage their members to sign up to become precinct delegates to ensure party members comprise most of the elected delegates to county conventions.
Affiliate chairs are supposed to let county election officials know how many delegates they want allotted to each precinct by April 1, 2018 otherwise, they will make that determination themselves. There will be a minimum of one delegate per precinct and the number of delegates per precinct is supposed to be apportioned based on how well Gary Johnson did for President in each district. Considering he got 3.6% statewide and the LPM allows non-precinct delegates to vote, there is questionable utility in determining this apportionment.
Here is the law which describes this process. I encourage all affiliate leaders to read it and decide for yourselves how to proceed.
MCL 168.623a Mailing or delivering certificate showing number of delegates to county convention; time; notice; failure to forward certificate; allotment and apportionment of delegates; election of delegates by direct vote.