Avoiding Big Trouble at the Cleveland Convention

Below is an email I have sent to all members of the Republican National Committee.  It contains my solution to an unnecessary problem that could become a thermonuclear stink bomb at the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland.

During the 2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa, our Virginia delegation and many others were outraged during the roll call of the states to name our presidential nominee.  Mitt Romney had a safe majority at the convention, but no votes were recorded or counted for any other presidential candidates.  Disenfranchised Delegates went home furious, and many Romney supporters were sorely disappointed at this manipulation of the national party rules.

The problem must be fixed, particularly because no candidate may have majority support of the Delegates when the 2016 Republican National Convention gathers in Cleveland.  Every properly elected Delegate’s vote must be counted.

I ask that you spread the word about this and help me ensure a necessary change.


Morton Blackwell

Virginia Republican

National Committeeman



Dear fellow RNC Member,

Below are combined amendments to The Rules of the Republican Party I shall introduce together as one motion at the August 6 meeting in Cleveland of the Republican National Committee Standing Committee on Rules:

Amend Rule 16(a)(2) as follows:

  1. In the first sentence, delete “these rules,”.
  2. In the second sentence, delete “these rules,”.
  3. After “… shall not be recognized.”  add a new sentence to read:   “Notwithstanding the provisions of Rule 40 regarding formally placing a name in nomination for President of the United States and Vice President of the United States, credentialed delegates whose votes are not otherwise bound by state party rules or state law shall be free to vote for any person of their choice, and during the roll call of the states their votes shall be reported by the state delegation chairman, repeated by the convention secretary, and included in the convention chairman’s announced tally of votes on that ballot.”

Amend Rule 40(d) as follows:

             After the words “the chairman of the convention shall announce the votes for each candidate” delete the remainder of the sentence.

The RNC voted last year to change Rule 16(a)(2) to prevent a repeat of a serious problem that occurred during the roll call of the states for our presidential nomination in 2012.  Virtually everyone agreed last year that this problem must be fixed, but the change we adopted would not solve the problem.

The position of the convention chairman, the convention secretary,  and the Romney campaign was that Rule 40(b), as adopted by the 2012 national convention, required that only candidates who had the support of a majority of the delegate votes in at least eight states could be formally placed in nomination as our presidential candidate and that, therefore, votes could not be counted for any candidate not meeting the threshold of eight states.

The requirement of demonstrated support from a number of states was originally introduced a few cycles ago to prevent taking up convention time for nomination speeches and floor demonstrations for states’ favorite son candidates and other candidates who had no chance of winning our nomination.  The requirement has been changed from time to time.

In 2012, the Romney campaign, having a convention majority, changed the requirement from a demonstrating a plurality of the delegations in five states to a majority of the delegations in eight states.

At no time when any such requirement was proposed, debated, passed, or amended, was there any suggestion that the rule would prohibit the casting, recording, and counting of the votes of duly elected delegates who were casting their votes in according to their state party rules and their states’ laws.  Yet the votes of delegates voting for Romney were the only votes announced by the 2012 Convention Secretary and counted in the final tally.

This caused roars of outrage from delegates from the convention floor, and huge numbers of people, including delegates properly elected to support other candidates, went home furious.

The RNC last year attempted to prevent this problem from arising again, but the rules change we adopted did not solve the problem.

The changed Rule 16(a)(2) now begins:  “The Secretary of the Convention shall faithfully announce and record each delegate’s vote in accordance with the delegate’s obligation under these rules, state law, and state party rule.”  (My emphasis.)

Stakes are high in the nomination process at the convention.  To win a nomination that might otherwise be lost, a major candidate could easily and somewhat plausibly maintain that the wording “these rules” incorporates all the other provisions of The Rules of the Republican Party, including Rule 40(b).

Using the same justification deliberately used in the presidential nomination roll call in 2012, that major candidate, the convention chairman, and the convention secretary could all agree that, because of Rule 40,  no votes could be counted for anyone who did not meet Rule 40(b)’s requirements for having his or her name formally placed in nomination.  They could maintain that Rule 16(a)(2) itself contains wording by which any of the other existing rules – including Rule 40(b) — trump Rule 16(a)(2).

Put another way, the powers that be could maintain that no delegate votes could be counted that were not cast for a candidate who had been formally nominated under Rule 40(b).  That was not the intention of the original requirement, and it was not applied at any other Republican National Convention.  To be our nominee, a candidate had to receive a majority of all the delegates’ votes.

Yes, there would be an uproar if legitimately elected delegates’ votes were not counted again in 2016, but there was an uproar, to no procedural effect, when this was done in 2012.

If our first ballot does not produce a nominee who wins by receiving the votes of a majority of delegates, we would have created a situation far worse for us than in 2012 if bad rules were used to disenfranchise many delegates.

I ask for your help in passing my proposed amendment to the current rules.


Morton Blackwell

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