What do convention delegates actually do?

What delegates will do at the Republican and Democratic conventions

Georgia will send 76 delegates to this month’s Republican National Convention in Cleveland and and additional 124 to the Democratic shindig a week later.

Most of Georgia’s Republican delegates were picked in district meetings or statewide votes at the party’s convention in June. The delegate selection for Democrats is a bit trickier, as the slate includes a pool of elected officials and 15 “superdelegates” — party leaders who are guaranteed a slot.

Many of the delegates to both conventions will arrive a few days early to plunge into the process. Much of the early work revolves around committees that determine each party’s platform and the rules for the four-day event, as well as the guidelines for the 2020 nominating process.

Over the course of the conventions, the delegates will attend speeches, meet with party officials, discuss party issues and hobnob with elected leaders. The convention schedule is packed with parties and fundraisers, some hosted by corporate giants and big-name politicians.

Typically, little “political” activity actually happens at political conventions, which have become carefully scripted and televised pep rallies showcasing rising stars and elder statesmen. Both are expected to feature their party’s running mate on one night and culminate with a blockbuster speech by the party’s presidential nominee.

The main purpose of the event, though, comes when delegates formally nominate their party’s candidate. Each delegate must cast a vote in favor of one candidate, and if no one is able to clinch the nomination, rounds of voting continue until someone does.

There’s little drama on the Democratic side now that Vermont U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders will back Hillary Clinton — although some of his most ardent supporters are still wary of the former secretary of state.

The critics of presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump, however, promise a pitched battle over the course of the convention. Trump has locked up the 1,237 delegates he needs to clinch the nomination, but the Never Trump movement is pushing for ways to free delegates so they can back one of his rivals.


Starting in Iowa and New Hampshire, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has brought you every key moment in the 2016 presidential race. A team of AJC journalists will be at this month’s Republican and Democratic national conventions, continuing to provide that deep coverage.

To track major political developments, check in with the Political Insider blog at http://politics.blog.ajc.com/ or the Georgia Politics page at http://www.myajc.com/s/news/georgia-politics/. You can also follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/GAPoliticsNews or Facebook at facebook.com/gapoliticsnewsnow and facebook.com/gregbluesteinajc

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