WASHINGTON – Itâ€™s called the Democratic Party, but one aspect of the partyâ€™s nominating process is at odds with grass-roots democracy.
Voters donâ€™t choose the 842 unpledged â€œsuper-delegatesâ€ who comprise nearly 40 percent of the number of delegates needed to clinch the Democratic nomination.
The category includes Democratic governors and members of Congress, former presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, former vice president Al Gore, retired congressional leaders such as Dick Gephardt, and all Democratic National Committee members, some of whom are appointed by party chairman Howard Dean.
The Republicans do not have a similar super-delegate system.
These super-delegates donâ€™t have superhuman powers, but unlike rank-and-file Democrats, they do automatically get to cast a vote at the convention to decide who the partyâ€™s nominee will be.
Although dubbed â€œunpledgedâ€ in Democratic Party lingo, the super-delegates are free to come out before their stateâ€™s primary and pledge to support one of the presidential contenders.
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