Superdelegates? What About Voters?

I've had several conversations with friends over the last few days about the role of so-called superdelegates in the Democratic Party's nominating process. More than once I've heard that they were created in response to the George McGovern campaign in 1972, to shift control away from party officials and into the hands of primary and caucus voters, but that's not quite right. They were actually created after the 1980 election as a response to the McGovern reforms. Superdelegates were meant to put the power back into the hands of the party elite. And look what the "reforms" gave Democrats, "the blandest, lamest, most uninspiring candidates... Mondale, Dukakis, Gore, Kerry."

Not many people knew much about superdelegates until Super Tuesday, but America is now getting a crash course on just how odd, esoteric and dysfunctional our "democracy" really is.

Richard Hasen writes in Slate ("One Person, One Vote"? Why the crazy caucus and primary rules are legal."):
In the Iowa Democratic caucuses last month, Democrats had no right to cast a secret ballot. In tonight's Super Tuesday primary, Republican Party rules dictate that the state of Georgia will send more delegates (72) than Illinois (70) to the party's presidential nominating convention. Illinois has a larger population than Georgia, but Georgia has more reliable Republican voters. In the Democratic Nevada caucuses, rural votes counted more than urban ones, and while Hillary Clinton got more popular votes in the state than Barack Obama, it appears Obama will capture 13 of Nevada's Democratic delegates compared to Clinton's 12. Orthodox Jews complained that they couldn't vote in the Saturday morning Nevada caucuses. In California tonight, if neither Clinton nor Obama gets more than 62 percent of the vote in a congressional district, the two are likely to split the district-based delegates evenly. On the Republican side in the California primary, Romney and McCain are targeting the few Republican voters in heavily Democratic districts, because some of California's Republican delegates are awarded based on the winner of each congressional district, not the statewide winner. And when the primaries are over, under the Democratic Party rules, "superdelegates" such as big-city mayors—who have not been chosen by voters—could hold the balance of power between Clinton and Obama in a brokered summer convention.