How The Actual Nomination Process Will Work

On Monday night, the Associated Press reported that Hillary Clinton had enough delegates to be the presumptive Democratic nominee for president. But the word "presumptive" is important: The former Secretary of State is not the party's official nominee yet. That won't happen until the convention — but how exactly will Clinton be nominated? It's a fairly straightforward procedure, but it does have multiple steps.

The key thing to remember here is that delegates, both pledged and super, are responsible for nominating the Democratic presidential candidate. Not voters, not the head of the Democratic National Committee, and not the chair of the convention, but the delegates themselves.

The nominating process will commence at the convention in July. First, all of the delegates will meet in the main arena and divide themselves up based on which state they represent. After that, the first round of balloting begins: One by one, a representative from each state's delegation announces how many delegates from that state are voting for each candidate.

One important note: About 85 percent of the delegates will be pledged to one candidate or another, and so their "votes" will be predetermined and completely out of their personal control. Pledged delegates will essentially be pulling the lever on behalf of their state's voters. The other 15 percent of delegates will be superdelegates, however, and they can vote for whomever they please.

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Once all of the states' delegations have voted, the convention chair — this year, it's former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell — will invite the candidate with the majority of the votes up to the stage to give an acceptance speech. Barring anything unexpected, Clinton will be this candidate. She'll give her acceptance speech, and as soon as her speech is over, she will officially be the Democratic nominee for president.

At least, that's the most likely scenario. It's worth mentioning, though, that Sanders is mounting a last-ditch effort to peel off Clinton's superdelegates and win the nomination at the convention. There's good reason to assume this won't work. For one, Clinton has received the majority of votes in the Democratic primary. Moreover, she's far closer with the party's establishment wing than Sanders, and superdelegates tend to be establishment types. Furthermore, Sanders isn't technically a Democrat.

All of that makes it very hard to imagine that superdelegates — many of whom are current and former officeholders in the Democratic Party — would switch their support from Clinton to Sanders for any reason, let alone at the last minute. Still, the remote possibility remains, so the scenario deserves consideration. The process would be exactly the same as if Clinton had won, however; the only difference is that Sanders would be the one invited on stage to give an acceptance speech.