Politics

Democratic National Convention postponed until August, delaying official presidential nomination as coronavirus spreads

Key Points
  • The Democratic National Convention, which was set for July, has been delayed until August as the coronavirus continues to spread.
  • The decision also comes as more than a dozen states and U.S. territories adjusted their own presidential primaries, with some opting for a mail-in system to replace in-person voting and others delaying the primaries entirely. 
2020 presidential candidates Senator Bernie Sanders, an Independent from Vermont, left, and former Vice President Joe Biden arrive on stage ahead of the Democratic presidential debate in Charleston, South Carolina, U.S., on Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020.
Alice Keeney | Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Democratic National Convention, which was set for July, has been delayed until August as the coronavirus continues to spread.

"In our current climate of uncertainty, we believe the smartest approach is to take additional time to monitor how this situation unfolds so we can best position our party for a safe and successful convention," said DNC Convention Committee CEO Joe Solmonese in a press release.

"I have always believed that American innovation and ingenuity shine brightest during our darkest days, and for that reason, I'm confident our convention planning team and our partners will find a way to deliver a convention in Milwaukee this summer that places our Democratic nominee on the path to victory in November," he said. 

The convention will now be held "the week of August 17," according to the release, and convention organizers expect it to provide "more time to determine the most appropriate structure for this historic event." The Republican National Convention is scheduled to take place between Aug. 24 and Aug. 27.

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The decision to postpone the convention comes amid pressure from former Vice President Joe Biden, the front-runner in the 2020 Democratic election, who on Tuesday said that he wouldn't be surprised if the convention were delayed because of the outbreak. An MSNBC reporter asked if Biden could imagine the convention being held in July as originally planned. 

"It's hard to envision that," the former vice president said in response to the question.

"We ought to be able — we were able to do it in the middle of the Civil War all the way through to World War II — have Democratic and Republican conventions and primaries and elections and still have public safety. And we're able to do both. But the fact is it may have to be different."

The decision also comes as more than a dozen states and U.S. territories have adjusted their own presidential primaries, with some opting for a mail-in system to replace in-person voting and others delaying the primaries entirely. 

Already, the coronavirus pandemic has changed the way both Biden and Democratic rival Sen. Bernie Sanders get their message out to voters. Both campaigns no longer do in-person events or rallies and have been relying on digital outreach to connect with voters. 

Biden maintains a commanding lead over Sanders, having secured victories in most of the completed primaries. In March, Sanders was mulling his options, his campaign said in an email, but he has since given no indication he is ready to drop his bid.

Biden was the clear winner at the last nominating contests, which were held on March 17. 

As the coronavirus continues to ravage the country, other national politicians have suggested that the outbreak could alter the way Americans vote. 

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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Tuesday said that America needs to move toward a "vote by mail" system to give citizens a safe way to elect their lawmakers while the coronavirus makes it dangerous to congregate.

"In terms of the elections, I think we'll probably be moving to vote by mail," Pelosi said in an interview on MSNBC. "That's why we wanted to have more resources in this third bill that just was signed by the president, to get those resources to the states to facilitate the reality of life: that we are going to have to have more vote by mail."

The coronavirus, which is believed to have originated in Wuhan, China, has spread to dozens of countries, with more than 965,246 confirmed cases worldwide and at least 49,180 deaths so far, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. There are at least 217,263 cases in the United States and at least 5,137 deaths, according to the latest tallies.