Ask AP: Flags on Uniforms; I, Delegate

Some voters walk away from presidential primaries and caucuses wanting more.

They want to cheer on their candidate on a crowded convention center floor. They long to hold one end of a giant sign that says "South Carolina" or "Minnesota." Their favorite accessory is a red, white and blue porkpie hat.

They want to be national convention delegates. But how can they make that happen?

That's one of the four questions being answered in this installment of "Ask AP," a weekly Q&A column where AP journalists respond to readers' questions about the news.

If you have your own news-related question that you'd like to see answered by an AP reporter or editor, send it to, with "Ask AP" in the subject line. And please include your full name and hometown so they can be published with your question.


I've recently noticed something strange about our military fatigues, in newscasts and other television shows. I am used to seeing the American flag with the blue field of stars in the upper left, but on the sleeves of the uniforms it's in the upper right. Is there an explanation for this?

Alex Cantacuzene

Lexington, Ky.


The United States Code does not address the positioning of the flag patch on a military uniform, thus making it appropriate to wear the patch either on the left or right sleeve, according to the U.S. Army Institute of Heraldry.

The blue field of stars, known as the "union," is always supposed to be in the highest position of honor and facing forward. So when it's worn on the left sleeve, the blue field of stars is oriented toward the front and the stripes run horizontally toward the back. When worn on the right sleeve, the institute says it is considered proper to reverse the design so that the blue field of stars is at the front, "to suggest that the flag is flying in the breeze as the wearer moves forward."

Perhaps the best description I've heard comes from, one of the leading uniform retailers:

"Think of the flag not as a patch, but as a loose flag attached to the soldier's arm like a flag pole. As the soldier moves forward, the red and white stripes will flow to the back."

Chelsea J. Carter

AP Military Writer, San Diego


I have a question about home water filtration systems. We have a faucet-mounted system, and I was wondering how effective it is at filtering out impurities and pharmaceutical residues.

Madlyn Cole

Lewiston, Idaho


It's impossible to give a definitive answer about the effectiveness of such filters regarding pharmaceuticals - there simply isn't widespread testing. How well any home filtration system works depends on what technology it uses.

Reverse osmosis is considered the most advanced technology, and those kinds of systems for your tap water are available, though they're relatively expensive and aren't designed to remove pharmaceuticals per se.

Many simple faucet-mounted systems use a treatment other than reverse osmosis, with a goal of removing other contaminants, such as metals and microbes.

Perhaps the best way to get a direct answer is to call the company that manufactured your system and ask.

Justin Pritchard

Associated Press Writer, Los Angeles


How does a person go about becoming a delegate for a presidential candidate?

Lyle W. Lipps

Adairsville, Ga.


There are several ways to become a delegate at the national conventions, and they vary by state and by party.

On the Democratic side, members of Congress, governors and members of the Democratic National Committee are automatic delegates known as superdelegates. Delegates won in primaries and caucuses, known as pledged delegates, are usually selected at state or congressional district conventions held by the local Democratic Party.

If someone wants to be selected as a delegate pledged to support a presidential candidate, they must get approval from that candidate's campaign representative. That is how the Democratic candidates ensure that their pledged delegates will support them at the national convention.

On the Republican side, the three Republican National Committee members from each state are automatic delegates.

Delegates won in primaries and caucuses are usually selected at state or congressional district conventions held by the local Republican Party. These delegates are usually bound by state party rules to vote for the presidential candidate who won them, unless that candidate has quit the race.

In the case of both parties, some of the delegates to the national conventions have already been named, but many others have not. If you're interested in becoming a delegate, follow these links:

Democratic Party:

Republican Party:

Stephen Ohlemacher

Associated Press Writer, Washington


If Michigan and/or Florida delegates become official, does the number needed for nomination - 2,025 - go up accordingly?

John Cusack

Crofton, Md.


The number of delegates needed to secure the Democratic nomination stands at 2,024, following several changes among superdelegates announced Monday by the Democratic National Committee. That number is based on a total of 4,047 delegates attending the convention.

Florida had 210 delegates and Michigan had 156 before they were stripped by the DNC. If they are reinstated - and there are no other changes - the total number of delegates at the convention would increase to 4,413, increasing the number of delegates needed to secure the Democratic nomination to 2,207.

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