How Delegates are Awarded in Alabama Presidential Primary

The Presidential Primary election is not simple math. But the main number Republicans will be looking at Tuesday is “twenty.”


“All eyes are on 20-percent, in the presidential race,” said Terry Lathan, Chair of the Alabama Republican Party.


In Alabama, if a Republican candidate does not get 20-percent statewide, or in any of the state’s seven congressional districts, his effort has been wasted.


“If you cannot hit that 20-percent mark, you will get 0-percent of the delegates,” said Lathan.


Alabama Republicans have 29 at large, statewide, delegates. 26 are picked on the ballot, and three top party officials automatically qualify. They are all bound to candidates who must first hit that 20-percent mark statewide.


Let’s look at a couple of scenarios.


If Donald Trump were to win 40-percent of the vote, while Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz got 19-percent each, Trump would get all of the state’s at large delegates.


But say Trump gets 40-percent, while Rubio and Cruz get 20-percent each. Then, all three would get delegates in general proportion to their votes. In this case, Trump would get 15 delegates and Rubio and Cruz seven each.


And there’s one more possibility, although unlikely. If one candidate gets more than 50-percent, he wins all the delegates, even if someone else hits the 20-percent mark.


So in a scenario where Trump gets 51-percent of the votes, Rubio 21-percent, and Cruz 21-percent, Trump would get all 29 delegates.


To further complicate things, there are also three additional delegates assigned to each of the state’s seven congressional districts. Mini-elections if you will in those districts, but again, a candidate must get 20-percent in a district to earn delegates. So a candidate who does not reach 20-percent in the statewide vote could still earn delegates by topping 20-percent in any of the seven congressional districts.


That’s 29 at large delegates and 21 district delegates, for a total of 50 Republican delegates in Alabama.


Naturally, it’s a different equation for the Democrats.


In Alabama, Democrats have 60 total delegates.

35 come from the seven congressional districts.

11 are at-large delegates selected statewide.

14 are party leaders or elected officials. Seven of them who are tied to the popular vote. Seven can vote for whoever they want.


Where the Republican threshold was 20-percent to earn delegates, the Democrat’s is 15-percent. So if Hillary Clinton were to get two-thirds of the vote Tuesday, and Bernie Sanders one third, the division of delegates would be proportionate.


“It’s all proportional with the Democrats,” said Vivian Beckerle, Chair of the Mobile County Democrat Party.


The Democrats require that half of their at large and district delegates are man, and half women.


“The theory is equality,” said Beckerle. “They want representation.”


These delegates will go on to their party’s national conventions this summer when they will actually cast the votes that will determine the winning candidates.


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