By Anna Giles

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — California is expected to play a critical role in picking the Democratic presidential nominee.

On Tuesday, voters will choose the Democratic candidate they think has the best chance of winning the presidential race. But it’s just the beginning of a complicated process. When voters get to their polling station Tuesday, they’re actually deciding how many delegates will vote for their candidate at the national convention in a few months.

Eric Sunderland, the California Democratic Party Sacramento Director, said California has one of the highest voter turnouts in the country.

“California’s a huge deal,” he said.

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California has the highest number of delegates going to the national convention in Milwaukee in July — a total of 495. Voters decide which candidate most of these delegates will vote for. That’s one purpose of heading to the polls Tuesday.

“You have to earn at least 15 percentage points in a Congressional district to earn one delegate,” Sunderland said.

Most delegates are decided by local voters, while other delegates are considered “at large” or statewide.

Delegates end up being people like your neighbors to local mayors and state legislators, all the way up to Governor Newsom himself. Newsom will be one of 79 delegates who are unpledged, or not promised to a specific candidate before the convention.

Here’s the breakdown of California delegates according to the California Democrat Party:

1. District level – 272

2. At large – 90

3. Elected officials – 54

4. Unpledged – 79

So what’s it like to be a delegate? Sunderland had his experience back in the 2016 election.

“If you’re a politico it’s like the Super Bowl right?” he said. ”It’s meetings all day, so you’re basically in the convention hall and it’s a meeting with several thousand people.”


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