The 16 hour-long Democratic convention in Nevada crumbled into chaos on Saturday night with concerns of voter suppression surfacing as supporters of presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders were sidelined and forced to leave the venue without their demands for a delegate recount being met.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton secured seven out of 12 delegates up for grabs at the convention hosted at the Paris Hotel in Las Vegas, even though her total supporters narrowly outnumbered Sanders’ supporters.
But Clinton’s victory did not go undisputed, with backers of the Vermont Senator demanding a recount. Party officials ignored the calls, hurrying quickly out of the convention. The 12 additional delegates were allocated after Clinton took 20 delegates in the Nevada caucus in February versus 15 for Sanders.
Tensions flared on Saturday when a vote passed with support from the Clinton camp to adopt temporary convention rules as permanent rules. Sanders voters voiced discontent with what they saw as an unfair vote that passed without winning a clear majority. They protested shouting chants such as “this is fixed” and criticizing the party leaders, the Las Vegas Sun reported.
The Sanders camp was also angered over delegate counts, which saw Clinton with a slight advantage with 1,695 delegates present versus 1,662 for Sanders, The Hill reported.
Sanders supporters prepared a “minority report” detailing the alleged exclusion of a total of 64 Sanders delegates they argued were wrongly excluded, raising concerns of voter suppression.
Democratic party officials stated that 58 of those Sanders 64 delegates were blocked from participating due to problems with their registration, including failure to register as a Democrat ahead of the May 1 deadline, while six were able to take part as delegates in the end, the Las Vegas Sun reported.
Analysts including former presidential candidate Ralph Nader have argued that the electoral process has disadvantaged Sanders through the system of closed primaries. The system of unelected superdelegates, the majority of whom have thrown their support behind Clinton, has also been interpreted as anti-democratic by many voters in the Sanders camp.
Only eight Clinton delegates were denied access as delegated at the Nevada convention, more than seven times fewer than on the Sanders side.
At the end of the convention, which ran hours behind schedule, Sanders supporters moved for a recount, but the motion was denied before the vote was even formally completed. Party leaders reportedly “fled the building among a chorus of boos,” according to Real Clear Politics.
Sanders supporters soon found themselves in the dark with sound systems blaring in what they interpreted as a clear attempt to silence their demands for a recount.