Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Voting by Gender for Delegates in Pennsylvania

Interesting post by David Cohen on Feminist Law Professors:

No, this is not a post about Obama/Clinton and gendered support patterns. Rather, this is a post about something else related to sex difference and voting that some, if not all, Pennsylvanians are facing today.

When I voted this morning, after choosing who I wanted for the Democratic Presidential nominee, I also had to vote for individual delegates for my district to send to the convention. I had to vote for 7 out of a group of 12. If I remember the ballot correctly, 7 of the delegate options were aligned with Obama while 5 were aligned with Clinton. If I understand Pennsylvania rules correctly, the individual delegates are bound to vote according to their district’s popular vote . . . for the first vote at the convention only. If the convention vote goes beyond a first round, then they can vote for whoever they want.

But that’s not the point of this post. What was interesting about voting for the individual delegates was that we were required to vote for 4 men and 3 women. If I had wanted to vote for a 4th woman or a 5th man, I wasn’t allowed to because of this sex-based voting requirement. (Luckily, all the names of the delegate candidates were seemingly-obviously linked to one sex or the other because even though there was a sex-based requirement, the sex of the individual candidate was nowhere noted on the ballot.) I don’t know if this is a local rule or if this is true for all individual delegate voting (in PA or across the country), but it struck me as quite odd, although interesting legally.

Click here for the full post.  According to the PA Democratic Party website (click on Selection Plan Summary), it seems that the system is designed to ensure a (virtually) even split among male and female delegates (although I should note that there is an uneven total number, with 52 slots reserved for male delegates and 51 for female).  So, depending on which district a voter is in, she may be required to vote for more female or more male delegates.  I also note that these binary "male/female" categorizations (with no "other" category, for example) completely leave out people who identify either as both male and female, or as neither.

Here's a Philadelphia Inquirer story on the "confounding" nature of the Pennsylvania delegate selection process (although the story does not address the gender issue).

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/reproductive_rights/2008/04/voting-by-gende.html

2008 Presidential Campaign, Politics, Women, General | Permalink

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