Your questions about the DNC, answered

John McClatchy

In July the Democrats will have an official nominee for President, and will all happen here in Philly.

They happen every four years, but not a lot is known about what actually goes on in the halls of the Democratic and Republican National Conventions.
Here are answers to some common questions about the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia.

Q: What is the Democratic National Convention?
A: The National Convention is when the Democratic Party (and the Republicans for the Republican National Convention) meets to officially nominate a candidate for President.

Q: Where is it?
A: This year it is going to be in the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.

Q: When is it?
A: The Convention will begin on Monday, July 25 and end on Thursday, July 28.

Q: How does the convention work?
A: This is where all the delegates from the primaries and caucuses from February, almost a lifetime ago, meet and cast their ballot. If a candidate reaches more than half of the possible pledged delegates, they get the nomination. If not, it gets a bit more complicated.

Q: How complicated?
A: Well, this is called a brokered or open convention. What this means is no one got the magic number of delegates (2,383 for the Democrats, 1,237 for the Republicans). So, the delegates are then released from their commitments to vote for a certain candidate, and change their vote.

Q: When was the last time that it happened?
A: The last time that it happened for the Democrats was the 1952 Convention in Chicago, where Adlai Stevenson of Illinois was nominated after three ballots. The last time it happened for Republicans was in 1976, when President Gerald Ford beat primary challenger Ronald Reagan by wooing unpledged delegates as neither had enough pledged to win the nomination outright.

Q: Does anything else happen at the conventions?
A: It is also at the convention that the nominee’s running mate is selected, and the official platform of the party is drawn up.

Q: What’s the party platform?
A: It comprises the issues that the party will run on. For example, the 2012 Democratic platform called for strengthening social programs, ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and campaign finance reform.

Q: Who is allowed on the convention floor?
A: There are going to be no spectators at the DNC, only state delegates and press. The deadline for applying for media credentials has already passed. Registered Democrats in the Philadelphia area can sign up to be a volunteer here:

Q: Alright, I want to be a volunteer. What could I be doing?
A: You could be doing anything from manning a call center, posting pictures and videos on social media, or being a greeter. If you have any questions, you can ask at [email protected]

Q: I’m not a registered Democrat and I don’t want to register as one. What can I do to watch the convention?
A: Most of the major networks will be covering the convention, especially keynote speeches from the nominee, the running mate, and the committee chair. If you want to watch as much as you can, C-SPAN (350 and 351 on DirecTV, 109, 110, and 111 on Fios, 99, 104, 105, and 1217 on Xfinity) will cover both conventions “from gavel to gavel,” much more than CNN or NBC.