Democrats moved a step closer to allowing delegates to vote virtually during the 2020 Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee.
The party’s Rules and Bylaws Committee unanimously adopted a resolution Tuesday giving the team overseeing the convention the authority to change the format, size and dates of the event.
Delegates will also be able “to participate in the convention in person or by means that allow for appropriate social distancing.”
The full Democratic National Committee will have to approve the measure as the party tries to come to grips with staging a convention during the coronavirus pandemic.
The outbreak has already forced organizers to move the Milwaukee convention from mid-July to the week of Aug. 17.
DNC Secretary Jason Rae of Milwaukee said the resolution gives convention organizers flexibility to arrange the event.
“This isn’t about option A (a full-scale event) or B (a virtual event) but it’s about looking at all the pieces of the convention, how to scale up or down as we get closer to August,” Rae said.
Elaine Kamarck, who served in the Clinton Administration and has been on the party’s rules committee since 1977, said: “It is good that we are doing this several months in front of the convention. We should use it as an opportunity perhaps to make lemonade out of lemons.”
Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez indicated convention planning remains in flux.
“It is my expectation and hope that we will have an exciting, inspiring convention in August in Milwaukee,” Perez said at the outset of the meeting.
“Now, does this mean that a precise format has been decided? No. This resolution was 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,” Perez said.
Perez said contingency planning “is an important feature of preparedness for every convention.”
He said the Democratic National Convention Committee, which is led by chief executive Joe Solmonese, “is composed of seasoned convention and event veterans who have been planning for a variety of scenarios from day one.”
Perez also thanked and praised “our partners in Milwaukee and throughout Wisconsin who have shown such tremendous leadership during these extraordinary times.”
“We remain focused on planning a successful Democratic convention and we are in constant communication with the federal, state and local health officials,” he said. “And we’ll continue to follow their guidance. At the end of the day our number one priority is indeed the health and safety of the American people.”
Perez criticized President Donald Trump and Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel for their handling of the GOP convention scheduled for Charlotte, N.C., Aug. 24-27.
Perez said Trump and McDaniel have repeatedly downplayed “the severity of this crisis and scoffed at making changes to their convention. They’re eager to advocate for federally-funded personal protective equipment for their convention-goers while dismissing the thousands of nurses and doctors and hospitals across the country who face significant shortages of PPE.”
Organizers of the Charlotte convention have said they are following recommendations and requirements from federal, state and local health officials.
Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said convention planning continues to move forward.
“I think what this was was a formalization of the conversations that have been going on for several months now, and that is, follow the science and retain as much flexibility and nimbleness as we get closer to the convention,” Barrett said. “So we don’t know exactly what America is going to look like … it’s my hope that life is back to normal but I can’t predict that either.”
Journal Sentinel reporter Mary Spicuzza contributed to this article.
Read or Share this story: https://www.jsonline.com/story/news/politics/elections/2020/05/12/dnc-democrats-poised-allow-virtual-voting-milwaukee-convention/3117959001/