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There is no law governing national conventions, and each committee, in arranging for a convention, is controlled only by custom and the resolutions of previous conventions. It is customary for each state to be directed to send twice as many delegates as it has senators and representatives in Congress; and for each territory and island possession to send two, four, or six delegates according as the committee directs. The call usually requires that four of the delegates from each state shall be chosen from the state at large, and that two shall be chosen from each congressional district. In most of the states they are chosen by state and congressional district conventions, but in a few states, including California, they are chosen by the voters at primary elections.1
On the first Tuesday in May, every four years, beginning in 1912, a presidential primary election is to be held throughout California, for the purpose of choosing delegates to national conventions, and for the purpose of giving the voters of every political party in the state an opportunity to express their choice as to a party candidate for the presidency. This primary is conducted in substantially the same manner as the August primary:
Not later than the tenth day of March, the secretary of state must notify the county clerk, or registrar of voters, of each county as to the number of delegates that each party in the state will send to its respective national convention. This information is obtained from the calls issued by the various national committees.
2. County clerks prepare separate ballots for each political party. Names of candidates for the presidency, and of those who wish to
i California, Oregon, Wisconsin, New Jersey, Nebraska, North Dakota, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts. They are chosen by conventions in the territories and in the island possessions.
2 Statutes of 1911, Extra Session, page 85 seq. This law was amended in 1013 in certain respects.
be chosen as delegates to the national con
onvention, are printed on the ballot of any party, if signatures to nomination papers are obtained equal in number to at least one per cent of the voters of the party in the state. These papers are left with the clerks of the counties in which they are signed, and are sent to the secretary of state, who later reports the names of all candidates to every county clerk in the state. Every ballot is prepared so that the name of each candidate for the presidency stands at the head of a separate column, and the column in which the name of any candidate for election as delegate appears indicates his choice for President. There is, however, a blank column in which any voter may write the names of those whom he prefers as delegates, if he is not satisfied with the names printed on the ballot. The ballot may also contain a “no preference column,” in which may be printed the names of candidates for the position of delegate, if any, who favor none of the presidential candidates whose names appear on the ballot.
3. The election is conducted and the result canvassed in the same manner as the August primary. Each party expresses its choice for President, and elects its delegates throughout the state at large, and the names are so arranged on the ballot that a voter may vote for the requisite number of delegates in a group or as individuals.
4. Miscellaneous Points. Voters do not express their choice for Vice President. The law provides for verification deputies for the May primary, the same as for the August primary.
A candidate for the presidency may be represented by any organized body of supporters in the state who may take the necessary steps to have his name printed on the party ballot. After the election, the delegates chosen by each party meet and select an alternate for each one of their number, so that in case any delegate cannot attend the convention, his alternate will go in his place. Any candidate for the position of delegate may file a statement with the secretary of state, that if elected, irrespective of his personal preference, he will support at the convention the candidate for the presidency who receives the highest vote of his party throughout the state.
A national convention consists of about one thousand delegates. It is called to order by the chairman of the national committee, who presides until an organization is
effected. The work of the convention consists of adopting a party platform, which contains a statement of the principles for which the party expects to stand in the November election; nominating candidates for the office of President and Vice President; and choosing a national committee, consisting of one member from each state. After the adjournment of the convention, the committee has charge of the campaign, collecting money from those who are willing to contribute to the campaign fund, and using the money to publish campaign literature and send out speakers. After the election, the committee has nothing to do until the time for calling the next convention arrives.
15. Conclusion. — If a republic is to endure, its government must represent the opinions and desires of a majority of its voters. A government which does not do this may be a monarchy or an oligarchy, but it is not a republic. There can be no doubt that many of our states, counties, and cities have been, and are now, governed by officers representing, not the people, but a small fraction of the people, — those who own and control the great corporate interests of the country. There ought to be no conflict between our corporate interests and the masses of the people. There would be none, if the corporate interests had used legitimate methods in conducting their business enterprises. But many of them have not used legitimate methods. They have seized property which belonged to the whole people; they have secured franchises at a small fraction of their value; they have formed monopolies by driving competitors out of business, and have charged exorbitant prices for the necessities of life. To do these things, it was necessary for them to control our governments; and this they have done through the aid of political bosses. The
problem of the present is that of making our national, state, and local governments truly representative of the people. This is the same thing as saying that the political power now exercised by great corporate interests must be transferred to the people. The direct primary, the initiative, referendum, and recall — to be considered in succeeding chapters 1 — are intended to aid in bringing about this reform. These regulations and devices are helpful, and will doubtless prove to be more and more valuable as time goes by; but it should never be forgotten that it is beyond the power of men to devise measures of any kind that will serve as a substitute for honesty and patriotism on the part of the voters of a republic.
1. What is the essential difference between a direct primary election and the primary elections held in the larger cities of California previous to 1910?
2. What is a nonpartisan direct primary? 3. How would a group of men proceed to organize a new political
4. Why did the Lincoln-Roosevelt League cease to be active ?
5. If pre-primary conventions may now be held, and if delegates to such conventions are chosen as party committees or other leaders direct, what has been gained by the passage of the direct primary law ?
6. To what extent may a pre-primary convention be influential ?
7. What steps would one have to take to become the candidate of the Democratic party for any of the following offices: governor, state senator, United States senator, state assemblyman?
8. What steps would one have to take to become the candidate for sheriff in your county?
1 See $$ 69, 72, 86. (References to sections of this book are in heavy type.)
9. Why would a political boss be opposed to the principle of the “short ballot” ?
10. Why does a direct primary law require candidates to report the amount of money spent for campaign purposes ?
II. Why is it not desirable for corporation directors to contribute corporation money to campaign funds ?
12. Is it a voter's duty to vote? Why?