The convention would vote on these new rules. But first it had to approve or reject the decision to unseat the original Maine delegates. "All those in favor will signify by saying 'aye,'" said national committee chairman Priebus.
The hall erupted with ayes.
Priebus smiled. "Those opposed, 'no,'" he said.
This time it erupted with shouts of "no." Standing on the floor, I couldn't tell which side sounded louder.
"In the opinion of the chair, the ayes have it," Priebus announced, officially unseating the original Maine delegates.
Under the RNC's rules, any delegate can call for a formal vote, in which each side stands up to be counted. Rufty, the Army veteran, jumped up, cupped his mouth and shouted, "Division!"—the official word for this procedure. He was joined by delegates from around the country. When Priebus ignored their calls, much of the Texas delegation stood and started chanting, "Point of order! Point of order!" The majority drowned them out with a counter-chant of "U.S.A.! U.S.A.!"
Rufty shouted again. Hayes, the state party chairman, turned to him.
"It's over," Hayes said. "Don't embarrass us."
"I'm calling for division," Rufty said.
"We don't need division," Hayes replied.
"It's not debatable," Rufty said. He was correct. But the convention rolled along.
An identical sequence happened with the rule changes: a too-close-to-call voice vote, shouts of "Division," drowning chants of "U.S.A.," and a chairman (this time House Speaker John Boehner) who didn't acknowledge the dissent.
Later, Rufty would show me a video someone had taken of the teleprompter during the rules vote. It said, in part, "In the opinion of the chair, the 'ayes' have it." Speaker Boehner was just reading a preordained outcome.The whole piece is well worth your time.
UPDATE--Vote results on teleprompters appear to be a thing at the DNC, as well. Villaregosa, to his credit, at least seemed troubled by it before being told by the parliamentarian that "you gotta let them do what they're going to do."
"They" do know how to get things done, don't they?