How To: Party Conventions in a Pandemic

Thanks to Trump, corona virus cases in the the U.S, are doubling almost every other day and multiplying by a factor of 10 every 8 days. That means, for example, that a state like Minnesota which now has 5 cases will have 50 if we’re holding a party unit convention on saturday the 21st. Given that the corona virus has an incubation period of around 5 days and those infected with the virus are expected to isolate for 14 days, 8 days from now their will be another cohort of infected but undiagnosed persons 4 or more times as large giving us 200 infected and potentially contagious persons in Minnesota by saturday the 21st. That’s 3 for every senate district, and thus most every country unit convention will be in a “hot zone”.

By saturday the 21st many of the sites we hold conventions at such as schools will already be closed by the coronavirus. Even if our site is still available, it is irresponsible to hold an in person convention in the middle of a pandemic. We have a window for county unit conventions until April 19th and our Minnesota DFL party constitution and by laws appear to allow extensions with the permission of the state party chair.

But what if the pandemic continues and we still can’t safely hold a convention? Well, Article 3, Section 10 of our party constitution states:

“Section 10. Electronic Meetings.
Subject to the provisions of this Constitution and Bylaws, and according to the governing documents of any party unit, electronic meetings may be conducted to act on matters when time, weather or special circumstances do not permit a regular meeting.”

We do have a requirement that notice of a meeting or change be given at least 72 hours in advance by electronic means and 10 days by mail, so we can’t make this weekends meetings virtual. But with the exception of the state convention, I can find no requirement that any convention but the state party convention be held in person at a specific site. And this years state convention has to be convened in Rochester, but there’s no requirement that every delegate be there.
So looking ahead to the growth of this pandemic and the health risks of large gatherings such as party conventions, we would be wise to prepare to hold our conventions online to preserve the integrity of the process and keep that process accessible to all.

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