In an important and long-overdue step toward making the Democratic Party more accountable to voters and less captive to the interests of establishment insiders, the Democratic National Committee's (DNC) Rules and Bylaws arm voted overwhelmingly on Wednesday to drastically curtail the influence of superdelegates by barring them from voting on the first ballot of the presidential nomination.
"This is a major step forward in making the Democratic Party more open and transparent, and I applaud their action."
—Sen. Bernie SandersSen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who has long criticized the party's superdelegate system as undemocratic, congratulated DNC chair Tom Perez and the Rules and Bylaws Committee for the move in a statement following the 27-1 vote, saying the "decision will ensure that delegates elected by voters in primaries and caucuses will have the primary role in selecting the Democratic Party's nominee at the 2020 convention."
"This is a major step forward in making the Democratic Party more open and transparent, and I applaud their action," Sanders added.
Nomiki Konst, a Sanders appointee to the DNC's Unity Reform Commission, similarly praised the DNC's move to limit superdelegates' power in a series of tweets late Wednesday, attributing the nearly unanimous vote to a wave of grassroots activism that began during the 2016 Democratic presidential primary, when progressives recognized the way in which the system tilted the scales in favor of Hillary Clinton over Sanders' insurgent campaign.
"This is a YUGE deal," Konst wrote shortly following the committee's vote. "Thanks to all of the incredible activism, superdelegates will soon be a thing of the past."
Thanks to all of the incredible activism, superdelegates will soon be a thing of the past. Congrats to all. Thanks to the Unity Reform Commission for working hard on this. https://t.co/QWOXetWeZz
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— Nomiki Konst (@NomikiKonst) June 27, 2018
The push by progressives to scale back the influence of superdelegates intensified in the wake of the heated 2016 Democratic primaries, when former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton secured the support of hundreds of superdelegates before a single vote was cast.
"No candidate should have an accumulated lead, whether real or perceived, before a first ballot is cast," DNC chair Tom Perez said during a conference call about the new rule on Wednesday. "We have to make sure that we rebuild the trust among many who feel alienated from our party."
The Rules and Bylaws Committee is set to officially certify the new superdelegate restrictions next month before they are adopted by the full DNC in August.