Is the NCGOP convention in violation of the 24th amendment to the US Constitution?

It’s an interesting question being asked by more than one of our loyal readers. As you may know, the current hubbub over the state party chairman focuses, partly, on a disagreement about a $90 fee being charged for attending the part of the convention where voting will take place.  What gets voted on?  We know about the RNC races.  Let’s find out more from the NC General Statutes: 

[…] § 163-1. […]
(c) On Tuesday next after the first Monday in November in the year 1968, and every four years thereafter, or on such days as the Congress of the United States shall direct, an election shall be held in all of the election precincts of the State for the election of electors of President and Vice-President of the United States. The number of electors to be chosen shall be equal to the number of Senators and Representatives in Congress to which this State may be entitled. Presidential electors shall not be nominated by primary election; instead, they shall be nominated in a State convention of each political party as defined in G.S. 163-96 unless otherwise provided by the plan of organization of the political party; provided, that in the case of a candidate for President of the United States who has qualified to have his name printed on the general election ballot as an unaffiliated candidate under G.S. 163-122, that candidate shall nominate presidential electors. One presidential elector shall be nominated from each congressional district and two from the state-at-large, and in addition, the State convention of each party and the unaffiliated candidate shall each nominate first and second alternate electors who shall serve if their slate is elected as provided by G.S. 163-209 and if there is a vacancy as provided by G.S. 163-210.

2_Founding_Father_facepalm_thread_8998251Hmm.  So the presidential electors get picked at the state conventions.  The NCGOP convention will — as I said — pick RNC committee members AND presidential electors.  According to the NCGOP powers-that-be, it costs $90 to attend and participate in the session where those things will be decided and voted on.  Here’s what the 24th amendment to the US Constitution says: 

[…] Amendment XXIV

Section 1.

The right of citizens of the United States to vote in any primary or other election for President or Vice President, for electors for President or Vice President, or for Senator or Representative in Congress, shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any state by reason of failure to pay any poll tax or other tax.

Section 2.

The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.[…]

It’s definitely an interesting question.

26 thoughts on “Is the NCGOP convention in violation of the 24th amendment to the US Constitution?

  1. Jacking up the convention fee is outrageous, but it’s not a violation of the 24th Amendment. First, the state party doesn’t elect electors it elects nominees. The nominees become electors when a majority of voters vote for that party’s candidate in the November general election. Thus, the general election voter chooses the electors. Second, the 24th Amendment is a limitation on “the United States or any state”. Thus it limits the power of federal and state governments not private parties like the NCGOP.

  2. Add to that the fact that the NCGOP Plan of Organization specifically requires county party organizations to pay a fee for each of the delegates they elect, but says nothing whatsoever about the delegates themselves having to pay a fee of any sort to vote.

    If the delegate fee represented something close to the actual cost of holding the convention, it would be easier to justify than what the establishment is doing this time and trying to add a fat profit to that. They are inviting a credentials challenge in Cleveland by doing that and it is just stupid, not what is in the best interests of the party. That this excessive registration fee is designed to change the composition of the convention by depressing the vote of the grassroots makes it stink even more.

    I cannot imagine Republicans fighting over this in a court. If there is a fight over it, that will occur before the Credentials Committee and / or on the floor in Cleveland. I can believe that some of those wacky Obama appointed federal judges would love to get their hands on this but I cannot believe any Republican would take it there. In a fight in Cleveland, the issue in the first paragraph above will have more horsepower than the poll tax argument.

    Can you imagine where Zan Bunn would be sitting in the National Committeewoman’s race right now if she had had the smarts to aggressively stick her finger in the dike against this excessive fee when it came before the Central Committee?????? Instead she goes in as ”$90 fee Zan” and a certain loser.

    1. There were credentials challenges for some states in both the 2008 and 2012 national conventions – generally the RNC decides these in favor of the establishment slate, although they may pick a few delegates from the grassroots slate.

    2. ” Instead she goes in as ”$90 fee Zan” and a certain loser.”

      Maybe. Depends on how many angry grassrooters show up, I guess. She hasn’t actually declared for that race, has she? In any event, her district may soon have other problems including a possible Trump challenge to the seating of NC-13 delegates. Handing out color coded ballot slips at the convention so that the Teller committee could easily distinguish between Trump-leaning counties versus Cruz-leaning counties might have been just begging for a challenge.

    1. I had an interesting conversation with an old College Republican this weekend who was active when Zan Bunn was one of the honchos there. According to her, Bunn’s biggest three allies in College Republicans were David Miner, Bill Peaslee, and Dee Stewart. Now we all know about Stewart, the most hated establishment consultant in North Carolina, but the other two may have slipped from view.

      Miner was one of Richard Morgan’s left-hand men and was defeated in his State House primary because of it. Peaslee was the architect of the top-down establishment inner circle created under Bill Cobey that ran the party for years. Peaslee eventually became a liability and a later Cobey-aligned state chairman took away his job at NCGOP HQ. My source said Bunn and Peaslee were very tight for years after the College Republicans but did not elaborate.

      It looks like these are birds of a feather.

  3. The solution as I have said for years is to have a suggested donation amount but not a required fee which by all common sense is an illegal poll tax.
    The larger question is whether our votes even count any more.

    1. the plan of org used to state that no fee could be charged for a delegate to attend a convention but a suggested donation could be asked but not required

      since the removal of this language county and district conventions have had a substantial increase in the cost to attend. for delegates and some also charge the fee to guests also

      Delegates should not be required to pay any fee at the local or district or state level to attend any convention. I am fine with having a suggested donation but language in the plan of org needs to be added to return the plan to language it used in this past

      1. That’s interesting, my participation with the party started in 2008. The precinct meetings were free and there was a nominal $10 for the county convention. By the time I left there was a strongly suggested attendance fee for the precinct meeting and the county was $20.

        I don’t think those fees were too unreasonable – it does cost something to rent a hall and if the local party skimmed a few bucks per delegate, no big deal.

        But I agree with you it sounds like some “moral hazard” has slipped into the POO. The state fees are ridiculous considering that it costs money for travel and lodging on top of them.

        Maybe some people want the state convention to be a fancy event – I would have been fine holding it in a high school gym.

  4. Also note that in the central committee censure, they list that Hasan trying to eliminate the poll tax was the reason they were now going to strip him of his powers. Those who have signed their names all over it – they acknowledge that they went around him to ensure the tax was imposed. It seems to me that they could be held personally liable as they have attached their names specifically as responsible parties for the electoral access hindrance and also brought about repercussions against the person trying to stop them from imposing the election barriers. The first black chairman, tries to eliminate the poll tax so that his supporters can afford to participate, is censured over it, and the barriers are increased. This is no good. VOTING RIGHTS NOW!

  5. Anyone who says that electors are elected in November, please show me where I go to vote on them in November. Wrong. They run and are voted on at the conventions. By that logic, you’d have to also say that our primaries are not “elections” because there is still a final vote for the seat in November. The Constitution is clear in that it explicitly lists primaries and elections of electors as being protected from poll tax hindrances.

  6. Zan defiantly needs to go. She is so phoney and only in for herself. She also isn’t going to object to any amount that is charged as she has money.

  7. This huge registration fee has become a major issue in and of itself, but it is also the nub of a large percentage of the arguments between the chairman and the Central Committee to be resolved on the 30th. As others have noted, there is nothing in the plan of organization that directly speaks to a convention registration fee or how it is set.

    There are two plausible arguments on POO authority to set such a fee; as part of the chairman’s call to convention, or as part of the budget. In a well functioning party, these would dovetail with each other. Unfortunately, we do not have a well functioning party, and with part of the fault for that on each side.

    Anyone who has been on the state Executive Committee for any length of time knows how the budget process works. The rough draft is presented to the Central Committee which makes such changes it sees fit and proposes the result to the Executive Committee, which then reviews it, makes such changes as it sees fits and approves it. In the POO, the Central Committee’s proposal of the budget is referred to as ”prepare” the budget, while the Executive Committee’s approval of it is referred to as ”adopt” the budget. It has worked that way for decades, and the party does not have a budget or a budget item until it has the stamp of approval of both the Central Committee and the Executive Committee.

    This year’s budget, poorly presented by a projection on the wall that was often blurry and no chance to really review the budget by the Executive Committee resulted in approval of what was presented. That only included a line item of overall proceeds for the state convention, from the recollections of those who have posted on the subject, and my own recollection. It did not include any sort of breakdown that could be construed as setting such details as the amount of the registration fee for the business sessions. The convention registration fee was not set through the annual budget process.

    If the Central Committee hid something in the budget to try to pull the wool over the eyes of Executive Committee on this matter, I have seen and heard nothing to show it. The budget was simply silent on the matter of the convention registration fee.

    From some of the materials the Central Committee has sent out, that committee later unilaterally purported to pass a ”convention budget” which presumably covered expenditures and receipts in some detail, and in that they purported to set a convention registration fee. The Central Committee, however, only has the power to propose (”prepare”) budgets not approve (”adopt”) them. Without submitting this ”convention budget” to the Executive Committee for approval (”adoption”) this ”convention budget” had no standing to set any fee. The Central Committee had no standing through the budget process to do that unilaterally.

    I do not have a timeline, but the chairman may have made a tactical mistake at this point. While there is a solid argument that there was no valid setting of a registration fee at that point, and doing it through the chairman’s call to convention would therefore be proper, a better way, if the time allowed, was for the chairman to issue an immediate call to a state Executive Committee meeting to which to submit the Central Committee’s proposed convention budget for approval. I strongly suspect that chairman’s view would have prevailed handily and the fee reduced to something more reasonable. That would have avoided this continuing saga and it would have shown the Central Committee that someone had the chairman’s back on issues that impacted the grassroots. I reiterate that without a timeline, I do not know if the time involved would have worked out for the chairman to handle it that way but if it did that would have been a better approach.

    1. The POO also gives the Central Committee responsibility for fiscal policy, and the chairman general oversight for party operations. In this case the CC met for the specific purpose of considering a 10-year review of the convention costs/receipts before accepting the staff recommendation for registration fees. That action was clearly within their authority. Hasan did not agree with the schedule, but offered no alternative plan. Because of his objection, he was encouraged to present another plan to the CC, but instead he decided to defy their decision, and act on his own. He sent out a Call to Convention stating a $45 early bird, and $75 regular registration fee. The CC did not authorize or consent to this decision, which Hasan was fully aware of. He sent the letters in u marked envelopes, and without inclusion of registration materials or return envelope. The following day the staff sent out the authorized fee and registration materials.

      1. I am sorry but setting a required fee to vote at a convention is far beyond ”fiscal policy”. The Central Committee cannot do that by itself. I MUST be approved by the Executive Committee and it was NOT.

        1. There is no precedent or requirement for approval of registration fees by the ExComm, Raphael. None.

          1. What there is no precedent for is a disagreement between the Central Committee and the chairman on setting such fees. In this situation, one has to go back to look at what power each has, as well as what others have, under the POO. In that analysis, the Central Committee comes up with the short straw. They lack the power under the POO to force their will on the party unilaterally as to delegate fees.

            At the last convention there were widespread complaints about the delegate fee being too high. Why in the world are they trying to massively raise it from even that level? Are they that out of touch?

          2. When the Central Committee and chairman are on the same page on the convention registration fee, they can use the chairman’s power to call the convention to set it. That does not require the Executive Committee. That is what has always happened in the past.

            When they are not on the same page, as this year, the only power in the POO to get around the chairman on setting the convention registration fee is the budget power, which cannot be done unilaterally by the Central Committee, and does require the Executive Committee’s approval. That is what the Central Committee was faced with this year, and they refused to allow the Executive Committee to participate.

            It is the Central Committee which is not following the rules as to setting delegate convention fees.

  8. So, am I hearing the supporters of the poll tax correctly? They keep saying that it’s at the election in November that’s electors are actually elected…so, if I don’t want to elect one of the electors…then I am supposed to vote Democrat…that’s pretty messed up!

  9. Linda seems to have a whole lot of very inside knowledge of what the Central Committee was up to. Given the mafia-like gag orders in effect for Central Committee doings, this means she is clearly an insider herself. Which is it, Linda? Central Committee member or party staff? I won’t bother to ask your real name, just which category you are in. Did you have to get permission from someone to reveal what you revealed?

    Linda also makes it clear that the Central Committee went through an elaborate charade over its scheme to disenfranchise as much of the grassroots as they could. I mean, a ten year study?????????

    Presidential years are a time that we can draw in new people, and we need to be doing that, not running them away with excessive fees. The control freaks will kill the party.

  10. Even worse, Lynette, the electors do not even appear on the ballot. I am told that “The names of the electors (nominated at the party convention) are replaced with the names of the candidates they represent.”
    Words have no meaning anymore. Everything has been or is being redefined.

  11. While the mechanics of how this grossly excessive delegate fee were imposed on us are rotten, the policy of it stinks even more. That the Central Committee went through its little dance of its ”study” does not validate this fee at all. Instead it smells strongly of setting up excuses.

    Our party needs to attract more young people and minorities, and jacking up the cost of attending the convention is pricing them out in many cases. It also prices out some retired folks on fixed incomes, and others. Claiming such policies are in the best interests of our party would be laughable if it were not so serious.

    Of course, with their vendetta against Hasan Harnett, it is clear that the Central Committee mob has no interest in trying to recruit any blacks into the party for quite some years. They seem determined to make certain of that with the way they treat Harnett, especially with the Central Committee even out press releases hammering him. They seem to want all black North Carolinians to know that the GOP does not want them.

    Those behind this fiasco claimed it was to raise money, but it is easy to see a different agenda that they really have, as this fee will change the composition of the convention more to their liking. Other changes also point to the same hidden agenda of those in power on the Central Committee. One of those is abolishing registration at the door, and cutting off registration almost two weeks before the convention. This will also reduce the number there and voting.

    Who needs to be removed from office are those behind the abusive and excessive $90 registration fee. We have a rogue Central Committee and we need to clean house. I heard a rumor that there may be a petition going around April 30 to remove some or all of them. If I see one like that, I will help pass it around. These people need to go before they wreck the party.

  12. Do the District Chairs on the Central Committee think they are representing their districts? It is more likely that they see themselves as beyond all that ‘trivial’ stuff. They’re now working with the ‘big boys.’ Yep, if the ‘big boys’ say wreck the party and show those grassroots riffraff, by God they’re going to do it.

    1. I believe you’ve hit the nail on the head. When this mess with the Chairman really began to blow up, the CC sent out a communication within which among other things, they claim to represent the grassroots. One of them was even quoted as saying “I’m as grassroots as anyone”. That’s rich.

  13. “The masses” of Republicans need to be encouraged to participate. Exclusionary tactics weaken the Party, and by extension, they weaken our country.

    1. Exclusionary tactics include the absurd $90 convention registration fee, the cutting off of convention registration over a week before the convention with no registration at the door as in past years, and the gag order that the Central Committee has imposed upon itself. As does a lynching of the party’s elected leader.

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