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Colorado and North Dakota: The Most Undemocratic States in 2016?

Author: Greg Parker
Created: 12 April, 2016
Updated: 16 October, 2022
2 min read

Of the many state primaries and caucuses so far with rampant voter confusion, North Dakota and Colorado are perhaps the worst offenders. In these two states, voters had very little say and the winners were left to party officials to decide.

North Dakota is a unique state in that it doesn’t have any voter registration. Voters are simply trusted to be eligible and a resident of the state based on the ID they bring to the booth. But this year, things are even weirder in North Dakota.

On April 2, Republican Party insiders in North Dakota elected 25 delegates to send to the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. None of these delegates were committed to any of the candidates and are free to vote for anyone of their choosing at the convention.

Ted Cruz seemed to come away the victor though, with 18 of the delegates coming from a preferred list that he had circulated at the North Dakota convention. There were no clear answers and no clear victors in the state’s delegate election process, however. In fact, the only thing made clear was that no one really knew what was going on.

Even the prospective delegates who were on the list weren't quite sure what to make of it.

“I have no idea how my name got there,” said Nathan Joraanstad, an undecided North Dakota voter whose name appeared on the Cruz campaign's endorsement list. Joraanstad said he didn't have any communication with the campaign and wasn't even sure he'd be voting for Cruz.

But the state may play an important role in deciding the party’s nominee at the Republican convention. These 25 unbound delegates will essentially be free agents at the convention, and in this year’s close race every delegate counts.

After a controversial decision by the Colorado GOP leaders back in August, the party cancelled its caucus, opting instead for a convention only where party insiders and activists would pick the winner. This process left nearly all of the state's 1 million Republicans out to dry. The state convention was held April 9, and it was a “delegate rodeo” of sorts with the candidates fighting for the state’s 34 delegates.

Ted Cruz made a clean sweep at the convention, scoring all 34. Trump retaliated on Twitter, posting on Sunday:


At least this time, Trump's tweet isn't far from the truth. Colorado and its questionable delegate selection process may play a prominent role if it is challenged at the national convention in July.