Democrats are taking the first steps to move their in-person national convention online just in case the novel coronavirus is still a problem in August.
While Republicans say the possibility of an online or livestream convention is on the table, the Republican National Committee remains optimistic that their gathering, slated for the last week in August, can still be an in-person event, albeit with some changes made to encourage social distancing and other responsible disease prevention behaviors.
Democrats, however, are already struggling after moving their convention back four weeks and remain concerned that, if “curves” in midwestern states don’t “flatten,” they may have to find other options, according to Fox News.
“A powerful Democratic National Committee panel voted unanimously Tuesday to give the team planning the party’s national nominating convention the power to limit the scope of that quadrennial gathering due to the coronavirus pandemic,” the outlet reported Tuesday.
The vote opens the doors for convention delegates, most of whom are now declared for former Vice President Joe Biden, to cast their nomination ballots online or by mail instead of in person. It would certainly be a very different sort of event — volunteers typically clamor to be among those declaring their state’s delegates from the floor of the convention — but it would give the DNC and any nominee the ability to carry on with a presidential campaign.
“The resolution empowers the convention committee to make changes to the format, size and date of the convention in order to safely conduct the massive gathering – and to ‘streamline Convention proceedings and provide maximum flexibility in light of the pandemic’ by making alterations to the rules governing the convention,” Fox News says.
“The resolution also would allow two of the most high-profile convention committees — the Rules Committee and the Credentials Committee — to conduct business without having to have their final reports approved by the full convention, a maneuver that could minimize some floor fight,” according to The Associated Press.
It’s not immediately clear what that means for the Democratic party’s platform, which will also be hammered out at the convention. Unlike in previous years, the platform is the subject of much concern in 2020, particularly given that Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) was given a measure of control over the platform amendment process in return for his unqualified support for Biden. The AP suggests that the Sanders-Biden deal isn’t yet final, and much of Sanders’ willingness to promote Biden hinges on his input on the party platform, particularly the minimum wage, healthcare, and climate change provisions.
At the very least, the AP says, convention delegates would be able to cast a final vote for the completed draft platform.
Biden has other things to worry about, though, in addition to the convention. Many states have postponed their primaries in light of the coronavirus pandemic and it’s not clear whether those states will be able to cast ballots before August 17, especially if lockdowns continue. That could put Biden, who has yet to get the majority of delegates necessary to secure the nomination outright, in a tricky position — one where the nomination isn’t fully guaranteed.
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