A key panel of the Democratic National Committee voted Tuesday to allow delegates to cast their votes remotely for the party’s presidential nominee, taking a first step toward making the party’s quadrennial convention at least partially a virtual event in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
A resolution adopted unanimously by the Rules and Bylaws Committee on Tuesday would eliminate the need for participants to attend the convention in person and gives the organizing committee free rein to make other changes that could dramatically alter the scale of the event scheduled to begin on Aug. 17 in Milwaukee.
The resolution will have to be approved by the full DNC, roughly 450 members, who will vote by mail in the coming weeks.
For now, the DNC is still planning on holding an in-person convention, but the resolution gives the organizing committee “maximum flexibility” to adapt programming and modify the schedule.
The resolution confirms that the convention committee’s “authority to plan, arrange, manage and conduct the convention includes the ability to alter the date and other aspects of the convention in order to protect the public safety and ensure compliance with applicable laws.”
DNC Chairman Tom Perez said the resolution “will give the convention team the tools necessary to adapt and plan in order to ensure that every delegate is able to accomplish their official business without putting their own health at risk – whether that be participating in person or by other means to allow for social distancing.”
The Milwaukee convention was initially planned for July but was bumped to August when social distancing policies and lockdowns were ordered. The Republican National Committee is scheduled to hold its convention from Aug. 24 to Aug. 27 in Charlotte, North Carolina.
The Rules and Bylaws Committee also approved waivers submitted by five state parties that have postponed their primaries until after the June 9 deadline or are electing delegates after the June 20 deadline.
Under DNC rules, states that miss the deadline risk losing half their delegates to the convention. With the waiver, the states would get their full allocation of delegates.
New York is one of the states requesting a waiver to hold its primary on June 23, a change of course after the state’s Board of Elections canceled its presidential primary amid coronavirus fears. A judge ruled against that decision after former presidential candidate Andrew Yang filed a lawsuit.
The other states covered by the waiver are Kentucky, Delaware, New Jersey and Louisiana.
At least 16 states have postponed their primaries in response to the conronavirus pandemic.
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