Ron Paul delegates may have found a way to even the odds with abstention

The 2012 Republican nomination for president is now down to two candidates, Ron Paul and Mitt Romney.  Newt Gingrich is expected to suspend his campaign on Tuesday, leaving his campaign over 4 million dollars in debt.  The Republican National Committee endorsed Mitt Romney last week, on the very day that the Gingrich campaign started to discuss exiting the race.

Ron Paul supporters will not let this news get them down.  In fact, supporters of the 12-term Congressman from Texashave continued to grasp delegate positions in states where, despite the caucus winners, delegates are unbound.  There are thirty states where delegates are able to vote for whomever they chose, regardless of primary and caucus results.

The dirty little secret is: At the end of the day, these guys and gals can vote any way they want,” said a Republican who has attended national conventions for decades. “Each state has different (laws) on pledged delegates.”

Ron Paul supporters claim to be dedicated to a movement, not a candidate, and have announced they will support “no one but Paul“.  They have currently been discussing whetherbound delegates may legally abstain from voting in the first round of voting at the Republican convention.

The act of abstention is when a participant in a vote is present for the roll call before the vote, but then purposefully casts either a blank vote or marking the ballot incorrectly.  In many cases, the abstention of voting may be considered an act of protest.  In fact, during the Republican National Convention in 2008, 14 delegates did not vote.  These delegates were present during the roll call, but would not vote for any of the candidates at the time.  Ron Paul supporters claim this would improve the ratio of votes in Ron Paul’s favor.  An example of this is explained with no one abstaining (and a tiny voting pool) Mitt Romney would get ten votes while Ron Paul would get five votes.  Mitt Romney would win, having obtained the 50% +1 needed to grasp the nomination.  With delegates abstaining, this could change drastically.  Mitt Romney could get five votes, Ron Paul would maintain his five votes, and five voters would abstain.  As long as all the abstentions had participated in the roll call, no one would win the 50% +1 votes needed to become the nominee and on to the next round and a brokered convention.

This was a considered option for Hilary Clinton supporters in the 2008 election and was widely discussed.  The question remains will delegates be kicked out of the convention if they abstain from voting.

RNC for Life discusses, state by state, how many delegates are bound and how many are unbound after the primaries, but it has no mention of the Republican state laws regarding abstaining from voting.  There are fines of up to $1,000 for “faithless electors” who do not vote as bound, and many are considering this to apply to the Republican National Convention.  These are not applicable.  An elector is not a delegate.  An elector is a member of the Electoral College,voting in the final election.

Many in the Republican Party are “outraged” at this suggestion by Ron Paul supporters.  They dislike the concept of these “Ron Paul Republicans” breaking the party’s rules to support their candidate.  However, Ronald Reagan’s campaign considered the exact same option in 1976.  Check out this 1976 headline: “Reagan Forces May ‘Steal’ Ford Votes”.

“In secret strategy sessions, Reagan aides have toyed with the idea of asking delegates to abstain as long as their state laws require them to honor the primary verdicts.  This would prevent the President from riding up an early-ballot victory.  Then, in subsequent ballots, they could legally switch to Reagan.”

In fact, Rick Santorum, before suspending his own campaign,had hinted at the fact that he may ask delegates to abstainfrom voting for Mitt Romney.  Gingrich seemed to imply the same thing.  Ron Paul supporters and looking into this without any urging from the Ron Paul campaign.

It seems that each delegate must analyze the Republican Party rules in their own state to see if this form of protest voting would cause the delegate to be kicked out of the convention.  At least 14 delegates did this in 2008.  It seems the Republican race is not over yet.



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