Democrats move to allow voting changes for presidential convention amid health crisis

Simon Lewis
FILE PHOTO: Democratic National Committee chair Tom Perez is interviewed after the fifth 2020 campaign debate at the Tyler Perry Studios in Atlanta, Georgia

By Simon Lewis

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Democratic Party's rules committee moved on Tuesday to allow organizers to change the format of the party's U.S. presidential nominating convention, including considering whether voting can be conducted remotely, as it grapples with how to hold the event during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Democratic National Committee (DNC) was still awaiting advice from health experts over how to conduct the event given the continued outbreak in the United States. On Tuesday, a committee opened the door to delegate voting being conducted remotely and the possibility of a largely virtual convention.

The Rules and Bylaws Committee met via a conference call open to reporters and the public and voted unanimously for a resolution that gives the party's convention-planning committee the ability to change voting mechanisms, make other changes to the convention format, or to again move the date of the event.

"Does this mean that a precise format has been decided? No," said DNC chairman Tom Perez.

Democrats will use the convention in Milwaukee, already delayed by a month to the week of Aug. 17, to formally pick their nominee to challenge Republican President Donald Trump in the November election, likely former Vice President Joe Biden.

Trump said last month the Republican convention would go ahead as planned the following week in Charlotte, North Carolina.

The resolution was meant to ensure delegates can vote without putting their health at risk, said Perez, "whether that be participating in person or by other means to allow for social distancing."​

The full membership of the DNC still has to vote by mail to approve the rule change.

The rules committee also approved requests from Kentucky, New York, New Jersey, Delaware and Louisiana to delay their presidential primary elections until June and July due to the coronavirus.


(Reporting by Simon Lewis; Editing by Bill Berkrot)