What Happens to Bernie Sanders’ Delegates Now That He’s Endorsed Joe Biden?

Getty Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders has officially endorsed Joe Biden for the Democratic nomination for President. While his decision is already stirring some controversy among his supporters, one large question is quickly rising to the surface. Where will all of Bernie Sanders’ delegates go? He intends to keep them to influence the DNC platform, even if he is no longer trying for the nomination.


Bernie Sanders’ Delegates Will Be Used to Influence the DNC Platform & They Can’t Be Forced To Vote for Biden

When Sanders officially endorsed Biden, he had 918 delegates to Biden’s 1,228 delegates. But what will happen to Sanders’ delegates? Sanders intends to keep his name on the upcoming ballots and keep his delegates. But this isn’t because he still is trying to get the nomination. He wants to keep his delegates so he can influence the party platform like he did in 2016.

It’s worth noting that delegates can’t be forced to vote for a particular candidate in the Democratic National Convention, even if a candidate endorses someone. So even though Bernie Sanders endorsed Joe Biden, his delegates don’t have to vote for Biden in the convention. They are still able to vote for the candidate of their choice.

The DNC released a memo the night before Super Tuesday explaining what happens to Buttieigeg’s and Klobuchar’s delegates now that they dropped out of the race and endorsed Biden, and the same holds true for Sanders’ delegates. The DNC said in its released rules: “it should be noted that pledged delegates to the Democratic Convention are not legally ‘bound’ to vote for the candidate for whom they were elected. Rather, they are ‘pledged in all good conscience [to] reflect the sentiments of those who elected them.’ [Rule 12.J] Under Democratic rules, delegates are always able to vote for their candidate of choice. Because presidential campaigns have the right to review and approve delegate candidates prior to their selection, delegates generally do remain committed to vote for their preferred candidate as long as their candidate is still viable. In cases where a candidate asks his/her delegates to support another candidate, or where a candidate who has accrued delegates drops out — it is the delegate’s prerogative to either follow the candidate’s request or to vote for the candidate of their choice.”

You can read this in the post below by Michael Kapp, a member of the Democratic National Committee.

So this means that Sanders’ delegates can’t be forced to vote for Biden in the Convention. They are able to vote for whomever they want. As the DNC memo reads: “In cases where a candidate asks his/her delegates to support another candidate, or where a candidate who has accrued delegates drops out — it is the delegate’s prerogative to either follow the candidate’s request or to vote for the candidate of their choice.”

When Sanders first suspended his campaign last week, he said it was difficult and painful, but “the path toward victory is virtually impossible.” He did say that he would stay on the ballot for upcoming races so he could use his delegates to influence the party platform. In his announcement last week, he said: “While Vice President Joe Biden will be the nominee, we must continue to assemble as many delegates as possible where we will be able to exert significant influence over the party platform.”

In today’s announcement about his decision to endorse Biden, Sanders said: “I’m asking every Democrat, I’m asking every independent, I’m asking a lot of Republicans to come together in this campaign to support your candidacy, which I endorse.”

Biden told Bernie in response: “Your endorsement means a great deal, it means a great deal to me… If I am the nominee, which it looks like now you just made me, I am going to need you, not just to win the campaign, but to govern.”

You can watch the live stream conversation where the announcement was made below:

According to Ballotpedia, there will be 4,750 delegates total for the Democratic National Convention, including 3,979 pledged and 771 automatic (more commonly known as superdelegates.) In order to not have a contested convention, a candidate needs 1,991 pledged delegates on the first ballot. (Superdelegates aren’t allowed to vote on the first ballot.) If no candidate gets this majority of pledged delegates, then a second ballot (or more) will take place and both pledged and automatic delegates can vote this time. From then on, a candidate needs the majority of all delegates to win, which is more than 2,375 votes.