How the delegate system works in Pennsylvania

| Wednesday, March 23, 2016, 11:00 p.m.

The Republican and Democratic parties of Pennsylvania allocate some presidential nominating delegates to the winner of the state's April 26 primary, but party rules empower some delegates to “vote their conscience” and choose a candidate.


Most of Pennsylvania's 71 Republican delegates are technically uncommitted. This year, party rules changed to require 14 “at large” delegates selected by party leaders to vote for the winner of the state's primary, but only on the first ballot at the national convention. Three “automatic” delegates — state GOP Chairman Bob Gleason, National Committeeman Bob Asher and National Committeewoman Christine Toretti — are legally bound to vote for the winner on the first ballot only. The remaining 54 delegates, elected by Republican primary voters in each of Pennsylvania's 18 congressional districts — three per district — are uncommitted.


Each congressional district has “pledged” delegates whose names appear on the primary ballot and have declared their support for a particular candidate. Pledged delegates are awarded to candidates on a proportional basis that hinges on the results of the primary.

The number of delegates per congressional district is based on a formula that takes into account voter turnout in the past three presidential elections. In total, 127 delegates will be selected this way. Candidates can accept or reject individual delegates.

There is also a measure to ensure that the pledged delegates are equally split by gender.

There are 62 additional at-large delegates who are selected by state party leadership. They are proportionally allocated to candidates who receive at least 15 percent of the vote statewide.

In addition, there are 21 super delegates who are free to vote for any candidate. Pennsylvania has a total of 210 Democratic delegates.

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