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DNC Committee Votes To Allow Organizers To Change Convention Format

Michelle Maternowski
Inside the Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee during the Democratic National Convention's winter media walkthrough in January.

This year’s Democratic National Convention (DNC) was supposed to bring thousands of visitors to Milwaukee in July. But the coronavirus pandemic has pushed the event back a month – and raised questions about what the gathering will actually look like.

On Tuesday, the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee voted on a measure that would give convention planners more flexibility. The resolution allows organizers to change the format, voting mechanism, and other logistical aspects of the convention.

During the teleconference meeting, DNC Chair Tom Perez said it was important to give the convention committee “maximum flexibility.”

“It is my expectation and hope that we will have an exciting, inspiring convention in August in Milwaukee,” Perez said. “Now, does this mean a precise format has been decided? No.”

Perez said no decision has been made about moving to a partial or fully virtual format. But he did say that delegates should be able to participate and vote remotely if that is in their best interests.

“We are in constant communication with the federal, state and local health officials and will continue to follow their guidance,” Perez said. “At the end of the day, our number one priority is indeed the health and safety of the American people.”

DNC member Jason Rae, a Milwaukee resident, emphasized that we don’t know yet whether the convention will happen remotely.

“As a Milwaukeean, I know how important this convention is to our city,” Rae said. “And I know that the team is going to be creative to ensure that we can still showcase Milwaukee while also ensuring the health and wellbeing of all our participants.”

The presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, Joe Biden, has said in media interviews that a virtual convention may be necessary.

After some discussion, the rules and bylaws committee approved the resolution. The measure still needs to go to the full membership for a vote.

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett spoke with reporters shortly after the DNC committee’s vote. Barrett said he hopes life will be back to normal by August, but he understands why convention organizers need permission to make changes to the event.

“I don’t view it as good news, I don’t view it was bad news, I view it as preparation. And we’re going to continue to move forward,” Barrett said. “I still believe and understand that the Democrats and Republicans are going to be nominating a presidential candidate this summer. The Republicans will nominate Donald Trump in Charlotte in late August and the Democrats will nominate Joe Biden in Milwaukee before that. I know that’s going to happen. But the format beyond that is open to a lot of speculation.”

The Democratic National Convention was originally projected to bring more than 50,000 people to Milwaukee and $200 million to the local economy.

Emily has been reporting on Milwaukee-area education for WUWM since 2018.
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