Under the current system for choosing a Democratic nominee, around 700 people called “superdelegates” are entitled to their own delegate to award to the candidate of their choosing, regardless of votes cast — making up about 30% of the 2,382 delegates needed to clinch the party’s nomination. These superdelegates include members of the Democratic National Committee, Democratic elected officials, and “distinguished” party leaders like former presidents and vice presidents. Superdelegates were a major point of contention during the 2016 primary — with many supporters of Bernie Sanders arguing the system unfairly favored Hillary Clinton.
The Unity Reform Commission, formed by Sanders and Clinton to review the party’s nominating process, has since proposed a new system to effectively reduce superdelegates by about 60%: Elected officials and distinguished party leaders would remain “unpledged” superdelegates, able to cast their vote for any candidate. The remaining superdelegates, namely the 447 members of the DNC, would have their delegates “bound” to the their state’s primary or caucus vote. (In the case of a second round of voting at a Democratic convention — historically a rare occurrence in the party’s presidential nominating process — all superdelegates would be unbound.)