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Democratic Party of Virginia Transforms Delegate Selection Plan, Process to Make It Work During COVID-19 Pandemic

DPVA leading the way, nationally, on how we meet the challenges the current crisis presents

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by Andrew Whitley, Democratic Party of Virginia Executive Director

Under normal circumstances, delegate selection is confusing at best. Trying to explain to voters just how their votes on Super Tuesday parlay into delegates at the local, congressional, statewide, and national level isn’t the easiest to do. Doing so in the midst of a national pandemic makes it even harder. Here’s a simple explanation of what we’ve accomplished and the changes we’ve made:

Several weeks ago the Democratic Party of Virginia staff, working with all our stakeholders, set out to transform our delegate selection plan to adjust to the new reality in which we all live. Not only did we seek to move the process to be 100% virtual, we also sought to keep a normally confusing plan simple but open, inclusive, and easy for folks to navigate.

Through a painstaking amount of calls with CD chairs, resident rules expert Frank Leone, our local chairs, Steering Committee, and Central committee, we arrived at a process which we are all proud of.  And thanks to the work of a few dedicated folks on our technology committee, we instituted a voting mechanism that state parties around the country are seeking to implement. Our Democratic Party of Virginia is truly leading the way, nationally, on how we meet the challenges the current crisis presents.

For those of you have been paying attention, you’ll know the first step in our plan was just wrapped up yesterday. DPVA staff administered 36 simultaneous local caucuses across the Commonwealth and had a record number of filings and participants. The feat of pulling this off isn’t something that should be ignored. With only a couple of weeks to plan, staff made 36 unique ballots, managed to fine-tune a completely new voting process (shout out to Dave Leichtman, our Vice Chair of Technology and Shyam Raman, our political director), and administered dozens of caucuses that went off without a hitch.

Due to the successes of our local caucuses, our Congressional and statewide conventions will use the same voting platform. State delegates will have the opportunity to vote for national delegates, a resolutions package, electors, DNC members, etc. as they would in a normal year, just in a virtual setting. And while the national convention still remains somewhat of an unknown, our Party has had the foresight, organization, and ability to enact these contingency plans that, as mentioned before, keeps our process open, inclusive, and transparent for Democrats across the Commonwealth.

While we most certainly have still more work to do to ensure that the next parts of our plan are carried through, our strong DPVA leadership deserves all the credit in the world. Our Congressional District chairs have sat through hours of calls with staff and our Chairwoman, not to mention with their own committees, to fine-tune these plans. Our local chairs are proving to be flexible and reliable partners who are working to ensure their committees know how these changes affect them, due in part to the excellent work of our first Vice Chair, Gaylene Kanoyton. And our greater Steering Committee has unanimously approved each change to our original plan. While others are using COVID-19 as an excuse to be less inclusive, we certainly have not. The over 2,100 state delegate filings, with over 600 additional participant filings sure to point to that fact.

If you’re a state delegate, a candidate for a national delegate, or just curious about what’s next/how to get involved, reach out to us (political@vademocrats.org) and we can answer any questions you may have. We’re here and working around the clock to answer your questions, be helpful, and a resource to any interested Virginia Democrat.