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Democrats to vote on allowing delegates to attend convention remotely

Bending to the scourge of the coronavirus pandemic, the Democratic Party plans to approve a plan Tuesday that would allow rank-and-file delegates to attend their August convention remotely.  Members of the Democratic National Committee body that sets rules for the party's primaries and delegate count are set to sign off on a resolution that would allow convention delegates "to participate in the Convention in person or by means that allow for appropriate social distancing."

The move is the latest sign that the quadrennial tradition of packing diehard activists into an arena to hear from the party's presidential nominee is likely to be scrapped, if not significantly curtailed. 

Democrats are currently scheduled to gather the week of August 17 in Milwaukee. The party has already postponed the convention by a month after party leaders expressed concern about asking delegates to travel in July when infection rates are set to vary nationwide. 

Top party leaders have urged the DNC to find ways to scale back the convention. Speaking Friday on C-SPAN, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she's told DNC Chairman Tom Perez to find "a gigantic stadium and put people 6 feet apart. So maybe you, instead of having 80,000 people there, you would have 16,000 people there and just do it all in one day." As for other official convention duties like approving the party platform and formally nominating Joe Biden and his running mate, she said "have your platform and then nominate your vice president, nominate your president and have your speeches and everyone goes home."   

The clause of the resolution outlining the remote capacity states, "WHEREAS, the Rules and Bylaws Committee's Resolution further recommends certain changes to the Call so as to safeguard the ability of all validly-elected Convention delegates to participate in the Convention in person or by means that allow for appropriate social distancing."

Once approved by the Rules and Bylaws Committee (RBC), the resolution will go to the full DNC composed of roughly 447 members for a final approval. The DNC staff is working on a mechanism to allow all of the members to vote by mail to approve the resolution.

The resolution also includes a clause that will allow the Democratic National Convention Committee to make any changes necessary without going to the RBC for approval.

The RBC will also vote tomorrow on granting waivers to five states who have moved their primaries passed the June deadline outlined in the party's rules. Because of the coronavirus, the committee will consider waivers for the states who have rescheduled. Those five states are Kentucky, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, and Louisiana.

The Republican National Committee and President Trump's re-election campaign are continuing to prepare for their Charlotte convention the week after Democrats convene. While the RNC has announced no plans to curtail the proceedings, the convention organizing committee recently hired a physician to help advise them on how to hold the gathering amid the pandemic.  

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