The GOP convention shouldn’t have ended in confusion.

The Republicans could have used their own nominee for State Auditor to help them count their votes at Saturday’s convention.

It seems to me rather absurd that a party convention, which meets for the purpose of giving endorsements and resolving ballot access for the September primary, would adjourn before informing delegates if a candidate reached the 15% threshold.

Yesterday, Professor Cunningham walked through the complexity of the rules at the convention. Mark Fisher, who seems to have failed in his effort to get on the ballot, is threatening a lawsuit.  Clearly defined rules about delegate votes would have allowed everyone to know in real time if Mark Fisher met the 15% threshold or not.  The math isn’t that complicated unless the rules are vague.

Many Republicans view Fisher as nonviable statewide and not worthy of a primary challenge. That may be the case but the same party sent Kamal Jain to the primary against Mary Z. Connoughton in 2010.

Parties have good reasons to keep and promote their 15% rule. But the rules must also be clear and easily understood by delegates. Secret tallying doesn’t advance the party’s cause and leads to the kind of confusion that reigned at the end of Saturday’s gathering.  After the roll, it should have been crystal clear–even if close–that Fisher met (or did not meet) the 15%.

Clearly defined rules about who gets to vote and how to account for blank or present votes before the roll call of the delegations would help avoid some of the confusion. As it stands now, delegations tally their votes on their own, announce results, send those sheets to the chairs. But the issue of the rules regarding delegates, blank votes, and present votes left GOP delegates on Saturday unclear about whether Fisher made the ballot or not. Professor Cunningham tried to make sense of this yesterday.

It shouldn’t be confusing.

It was announced that Charlie Baker received the party’s endorsement but delegates were not informed if Fisher would advance to the ballot. After Baker gave his acceptance, the convention adjourned with the negative result for Fisher announced later.

It’s not likely to matter much this fall in the contest between Baker and the Democratic nominee.  But it means a good deal to the activist base that puts in its time, money, and effort to keep a party active at the local level. Mark Fisher and his supporters should have been informed in real time whether or not he made the ballot.

They should consider a more transparent process of determining votes at their next convention.

About Peter Ubertaccio

Peter Ubertaccio is the Director of Joseph Martin Institute for Law & Society at Stonehill College in Easton and Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Political Science & International Studies. His work focuses on political parties, marketing and institutions. He received his Ph.D. in Politics from Brandeis University in Waltham, MA. Professor Ubertaccio and his family live on Cape Cod where he is on the Board of Directors of the OpenCape Corporation and the Sandwich Economic Initiative Corporation.
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