How to become a Republican delegate
By Greg Krieg, Will Mullery, Tal Yellin
Updated 3:31 PM ET, Wed April 27, 2016
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What's the deal with delegates?
At the Republican National Convention in Cleveland this summer, 2,472 representatives from 50 states, Washington, D.C., and all five territories will gather to select the GOP presidential candidate. The eventual nominee will need the support of a majority of delegates — or 1,237.
What do delegates do?
Most delegates will vote for a candidate based on the results of primaries and caucuses in their states. If no candidate gets more than half the delegates — 1,237 — during the primary process, the delegates at the convention keep taking votes until someone does. If the nomination process goes multiple ballots, they will gradually be released from those requirements and, depending on their state rules, freed to vote as they choose.
Why are we hearing about delegates now?
If no candidate clinches the nomination on the first ballot, the personal preferences of the delegates could decide the race. Only about 150 delegates are unbound going into the convention, so a lot of the jockeying you're seeing is about what they might do in later rounds. For that reason, the campaigns are now trying to help get their loyal supporters elected or appointed as national delegates.
So how does a person become a Republican delegate?
Great question! Use the buttons below to see the five basic routes to Cleveland.
Be a top official in the state party
Committeeman — Committeewoman — State chair
Each state and territory's three Republican National Committee members are automatically made delegates to the national convention. This includes the state party chair, along with the RNC committeewoman and committeeman. In 50 of the 56 delegations, these three are in some way bound to the primary or caucus results.
Be chosen by a campaign to be part of its national slate
In most states, the campaigns make lists of the people they hope to see elected or appointed to their delegate slots. But some states allow the campaigns more control than others. In New Hampshire, for example, they submitted slates after the primary. (Donald Trump's includes his campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski.) The campaigns choose in California too, but they must submit their desired delegates before the vote.
Be elected directly at the primary
In several states, delegates are elected directly on the primary ballot. In West Virginia, for example, those names will appear beside a presidential candidate. Pennsylvania is more complicated. Even as they fill out their ballots, voters there will have no official indication how their at-large delegates plan to vote at the national convention.
Be elected or appointed directly by a state party committee
In states like Tennessee, the party executive committee meets sometime in the spring to round out the party's full slate of delegates. The individuals selected are typically bound by the same rules as the other at-large delegates, meaning they must vote in accordance with the state's primary or caucus results for at least one ballot. (In Tennessee, it's two.)
Be elected based on the results of a district vote or at a state convention or meeting
Most delegates are considered "at-large," meaning they represent the whole state or, if they are elected at the district-level, their district (congressional or otherwise).
In caucus states and a number of primary states, at-large delegates are elected at a statewide gathering, usually by delegates attending the state convention. District delegates are elected at district-level conventions or meetings.
In most states, the delegates selected are bound by primary or caucus results. Colorado, Wyoming and North Dakota did not hold primaries or presidential votes at their caucuses, so their delegates have the option of remaining uncommitted until the convention.
For wannabe delegates who want to cast a vote on the convention floor in Cleveland, there is one other path.
First, be elected or selected as an alternate member of your state's delegation.
Then hope a voting delegate is unable to travel, oversleeps or goes missing. If that happens, an alternate (maybe you!) will take his or her place.