If you watched the Democratic National Convention on Tuesday night, you may have noticed that the roll call vote included not just Joe Biden but also Bernie Sanders. Why was Sanders still on the ballot, and why was he getting votes along with Biden? It’s all because of the DNC platform.
Sanders Kept His Delegates to Influence the DNC Platform
When Sanders officially endorsed Biden, he had 918 delegates to Biden’s 1,228 delegates. Despite endorsing Biden, Sanders kept his name on the ballots and kept his delegates. But this wasn’t because he was still trying to get the nomination. He simply wanted to keep his delegates to influence the party platform.
Business Insider reported that when he suspended his campaign, Sanders said: “Today I congratulate Joe Biden, a very decent man, who I will work with to move our progressive ideas forward… I will stay on the ballot in all remaining states and continue to gather delegates.”
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, according to DNC rules. So even though Sanders endorsed Biden, his delegates weren’t required to vote for Biden in the convention. But Sanders did encourage all of his supporters to vote for Biden.
Andrew Yang tweeted about how surreal it was to watch Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez nominate Sanders, since he felt that she should be seen more during the Democratic convention.
Ocasio-Cortez was asked by the DNC to second Sanders’ nomination as part of the DNC procedures. On Twitter, Ocasio-Cortez called out NBC News for a previous tweet that implied her nominating speech was unusual, which it was not. Although she had endorsed Sanders during the primary, after he stepped down in April she said that she would definitely be voting for Biden, MarketWatch reported at the time.
When Sanders first suspended his campaign, he said in a live stream that 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 that he was endorsing Biden, he added: “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.”
Sanders made the announcement during a live stream with supporters from his Vermont home, The New York Post reported.
But Sanders made sure everyone knew that he supported Biden’s campaign. When he announced 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.”
You can watch the live stream conversation where the announcement was made below:
The DNC released a memo the night before Super Tuesday explaining what happens to Pete Buttigieg’s and Amy Klobuchar’s delegates after they dropped out of the race and endorsed Biden, and the same held 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.
Despite keeping his delegates and being on the ballot, Sanders did indeed endorse Biden and asked all his supporters to give their votes to Biden.