• Ben Szalinski
    JAN 04, 2024


    How Illinois voters select delegates to nominate presidential candidates

    The State Board of Elections  

    Just like how members of the Electoral College in each state officially elect the President of the United States, presidential nominees are voted on by delegates from each state when they meet at the party’s convention in the summer.  

    Delegates for presidential candidates in Illinois will file to run for office on Thursday and Friday alongside the presidential candidates themselves.

    Who are the delegates?  

    Republicans will elect three delegates and three alternate delegates from each congressional district. Another 13 delegates and 10 alternates will be appointed by the party, giving Illinois Republicans 64 delegates and 61 alternates at the convention.  

    Democrats will elect three to eight delegates from each congressional district. Voters in Rep. Mike Quigley’s 5th District and Rep. Danny Davis’ 7th District will pick eight delegates. Voters in the 12th District represented by Rep. Mike Bost, a Republican, will send three delegates to the convention. Illinois Democratic voters will elect 96 of the party’s 178 delegates, with the other 82 being appointed by the party. The 82 appointed delegates include 19 party leaders and elected officials—likely people such as Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson. Gov. JB Pritzker and other statewide leaders and members of Congress are among an automatic group of delegates. The party will also send 12 alternate delegates.  

    The delegates appointed by the party will be selected at a party meeting on April 29.  

    Illinois Democrats have also set diversity goals for the state’s delegation at the convention that are more aggressive than the national committee’s goals. This includes sending 46 Black delegates, 36 Hispanic delegates, 12 LGBTQ+ delegates, 26 people with disabilities and 65 youths.   

    Democratic delegates need to file 0.5 percent of the number of qualified voters in their congressional district or 500 signatures. Republican delegates need to file 0.5 percent of the number of qualified voters in their congressional districts.   

    The delegates are typically people active within their party and local politics such as local elected officials, active party volunteers and state lawmakers. Under the Democratic Party of Illinois rules, presidential candidates’ campaigns can review the list of delegates and approve of certain delegates.   

    Presidential candidates filing Thursday and Friday will submit between 3,000 and 5,000 signatures, according to the State Board of Elections.  

    How do voters pick the delegates for the convention?   

    Presidential campaigns in both parties have a say over who is listed on the ballot to be their delegates at the convention.   

    Democrats award delegate allocation proportionately based on how well each presidential candidate performs in each congressional district. However, candidates that receive less than 15 percent of the vote in a district will not be awarded any delegates. The party is also seeking to bring an even number of male and female delegates to the convention. Under the state party’s plan, the gender of the delegates will alternate. The party has predetermined how many male and female delegates each district will receive to give the party a total of 48 male and 48 female elected district delegates. Districts with an even number of delegates will have an even number of male and female delegates awarded to the candidate, assuming the presidential candidate who wins the districts wins all the delegates. Delegates that don’t identify as either gender will not count toward either gender.   

    In 2020, the last contested Democratic primary in Illinois, President Joe Biden won 59 percent of the statewide vote and won 95 delegates and Sen. Bernie Sanders won 36 percent of the vote and received 60 delegates from the primary election. Other delegates were then awarded to each candidate based on party rules or delegate’s choice at the convention.   

    The elected Republican delegates will represent the candidate they are tied to at the convention. In 2016, the last contested Republican primary in Illinois, 54 delegates were selected to represent President Donald Trump, nine were selected to represent Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, and six for Ohio Gov. John Kasich  

    The level of competition for delegates in Illinois could be muted by the time voters turn out on March 19. Biden faces two primary challengers but is not expected to face serious opposition. On the Republican side, the larger field that is currently dominated by Trump will likely be significantly diminished by mid-March. The crowded 2020 Democratic primary was down to two candidates by the time it was Illinois’ turn, and the similarly crowded 2016 Republican primary was down to four candidates.   

    The largest number of states vote on Super Tuesday, which is March 5 this year — two full weeks before Illinois’ election. By that point, 32 Republican contests and 25 Democratic contests will have already taken place.  

    Exactly which candidates for president file to run in Illinois will be clear by the end of Friday.  

    What do the delegates do after they’re elected?   

    The delegates selected by the parties and voters will carry out their duties at each party’s convention in the summer — mainly voting on a party platform and nominating the party’s presidential candidate. The Republican delegates will meet in Milwaukee on July 15-18 and Democrats will gather in Chicago on Aug. 19-22.  

    Delegates are either pledged to a certain candidate based on who they were selected to represent or the state party’s rules. Democratic delegates will be awarded based on a candidate’s percentage of the vote received in each district and share of the statewide vote.  

    Republican delegates elected by voters are “bound” to support the person they represent, while the state’s at-large delegates are “bound” to support the statewide winner of the primary — at least through the first round of voting at the convention.   

    Delegates that aren’t tied to support a particular candidate can receive extra attention at the convention, especially if there is division within the party over which candidate to support. Brokered conventions are rare in American politics, however. The last brokered convention where more than one round of voting was taken to select a nominee was in 1952 at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago, when Illinois Gov. Adlai Stevenson was nominated on the third ballot after President Harry Truman dropped out of the running earlier in the year. Stevenson had not been a candidate for president during the primary season.  

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    • Andrew Schott
      commented 2024-01-04 10:46:34 -0600
      This article’s first sentence is incorrect. The article describes how Illinois parties select delegates to their respective national party conventions. This article does NOT describe how Illinois determines who will vote in the Electoral College.