DemDaily: Democrats Prepare for Virtual Convention

May 12, 2020

The Rules and ByLaws Committee (RBC) of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) today voted to allow aspects of the Democratic Convention, planned for the week of August 17th in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to be held virtually.

While the actions taken today does not mean that no aspect of the convention will be held in-person, it sets the stage for a virtual convention for the first time in any political party's history.

In April, the DNC postponed the Convention, originally scheduled to take place July 13-16th, by five weeks due to the health risks imposed by the escalating coronavirus pandemic, which has now claimed the lives over 82,000 Americans.

On today's public call of the RBC committee, DNC Chair Tom Perez said "we remain focused on planning a successful democratic convention. Our number one priority is the health and safety of the American people."

The resolution passed by the RBC today recommends formally amending DNC regulations to allow the convention's Rules and Credentials standing committees to "streamline Convention proceedings" by conducting certain business and passage of final reports without approval of the full convention.

Convention delegates still will get to vote on the party platform and vote to nominate the president and vice presidential nominees.

The resolution also gives the convention team, the Democratic National Convention Committee (DNCC), the authority and "maximum flexibility to plan a safe event that guarantees every delegate can accomplish their official business without putting their own health at risk." That includes making changes to the "format, size and date of the convention," which means the event could be just one or the traditional four days the week of August 17th.

The resolution and amendments to DNC by-laws is expected to be approved in a mail vote by the full 447 members of the Democratic National Committee.

"During this critical time, when the scope and scale of the pandemic and its impact in August remain unknown, convention planners are exploring a range of contingency options to ensure all delegates will be able to cast ballots and accomplish their business, regardless of their ability to travel and participate in person." -- DNC Statement

In addition to providing the DNCC flexibility, the RBC approved waivers for five states that have moved presidential primaries past June 9th, offically the party's final day for holding nominating contests, and which would normally result in delegate penalties. Those states are Delaware, Kentucky, Louisiana, New Jersey and New York.

No Balloon Drop for Democrats? (Saul Loeb/AFP)

All toll, eighteen states have moved their presidential primary elections, including New York, which had cancelled its primary altogether, but a federal judge last week ordered that it must move forward with the June 23rd ballot in response to a suit filed by former Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang.

Delaware was the latest to move its primary, for a second time, now to July 7th. It was also announced that Puerto Rico, which has not confirmed a new primary date, is likely to be held on July 5th or 12th.

The unprecedented proceedings come as the threat of another wave of the deadly pandemic is predicted this Fall. This has not, however, deterred what DNC Chair Perez called today the "cruelty, incompetence and cowardness" of Republicans, who still plan to hold their convention in person August 24-27, 2020 in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Regardless of the consequences, President Trump has vowed to hold a full-scale convention as he has pushed for reopening the country, even at the cost of higher fatalities from COVID-19. Last week, Trump said, "Will some people be affected? Yes. Will some people be affected badly? Yes. But we have to get our country open and we have to get it open soon."

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Kimberly Scott

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Sources: DNC, NYT

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