After the 1972 election, Congresswoman Barbara Mikulski was asked by the Democratic National Committee (DNC) to chair the Mikulski Commission commission to review and make recommendations on how effective the pre-convention McGovern-Fraser reforms rules were.
replaced the demographic quotas of 1972 with affirmative action requirements to increase participation by women, blacks and other minorities. (However, this specific plan had the OPPOSITE effect, decreasing the proportion of women from 38% in 1972 to 36% in 1976. The proportion of blacks declined from 15% in 1972 to 7% in 1976. After 1976, quotas for women delegates were reimposed.) PROPORTIONAL REPRESENTATION, the distribution of delegates among candidates to reflect their share of the primary or caucus vote, was mandated by party rules.
The Mikulski Commission went further than McGovern-Fraser, proposing to bind rules on state parties which would restrict delegate selection in primaries or caucuses to "Democratic voters only who publicly declare their party preference and have that preference publicly recorded" (Rule 2A). This required a party registration process before being able to vote in a Democratic primary. The new rule put pressure on parties to close their primaries to outside participation and brought about "same-day registration" in states with open primaries mandated by state law. The DNC incorporated these recommendations into the Delegate Selection Rules for the 1976 Convention. A temporary exemption where state legislatures had no party identification requirement to participate in a primary election was included. Opponents and dissenters felt this new rule violated the integrity of the secret ballot at public polling stations.
Wikipedia summarizes the imposition the Mikulski Commission placed upon non-partisan voters and the destruction of the American tradition of the secret ballot thusly:
a public declaration in front of the election judges is made and a party-specific ballot given to the voter to cast.
In other words, a voter who wished to vote for a Democrat for President and a Republican for Senate, would experience voter suppression and denial.
- An Interpretation of the 1972 Presidential Election Landslide, by CRAIG W. COOPER, 1975.
- All Politics, CNN Time, Facts. Sources: ‘’The National Journal’’, August 23, 1980; ‘’Congressional Quarterly's Guide to U.S. Elections’’; also quoted in ‘’Democratic party convention rule changes’’, academic.regis.edu , below.
- See for example Kansas rules. Voting Rules for Primary Elections. www.sos.ks.gov