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Democratic Delegate Candidates Hope To Boost Typically Low Turnout

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Florida Democratic voters will decide who represents them as delegates Saturday at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.

In the Sunshine State, Democrats and Republicans use different processes for choosing their delegates.

On the Republican side, Florida is a winner-take-all state, giving its 99 delegate votes to Donald Trump. As for how people become delegates, Duval County Republican Chairman Lake Ray said delegates are selected by party leaders, not Republican voters.

“They select them partly by Congressional District and partly at large. Those that are at the Congressional level are predicated on the number of Republicans that are in a particular Congressional District,” Ray said.

Meanwhile, Democratic voters can choose their delegates – but many may not know it.

Ali Kurnaz, with the Florida Young Democrats, said: “It is very common that these elections have very, very extreme low turnout. I mean, we’re talking less than 100 people in some of these races will come out and vote."

Under the Democrats’ proportional delegate system, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gets 141 delegates, and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders gets 73. So why does it matter who casts those pre-determined votes at the convention?

“If it is a contested convention, we want to see our delegates stand firm with the candidates that we sent them there to represent,” Kurnaz said.

It’s possible, he says, but unlikely a procedural move could allow delegates to change their votes. So, a delegate who ran as a Sanders guy could end up choosing Clinton, or vice versa.

That’s why it’s up to Democratic voters to choose delegates they think are most loyal to the presidential candidate they like. 

For more information on polling places click here.

For more sample ballots for Sanders delegates click here.

For sample ballots for Clinton delegates click here.

Ryan Benk is a former WJCT News reporter who joined the station in 2015 after working as a news researcher and reporter for NPR affiliate WFSU in Tallahassee.