On By Brian Legate
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Kansas City, MO (March 15, 2020) – This afternoon, the Missouri Democratic Party State Committee met and approved a slate of emergency measures to combat the spread of COVID-19.
Jean Peters Baker, Chairwoman of the Missouri Democratic Party released the following statement:
“The Missouri Democratic Party is committed to doing everything we can to slow the spread of COVID-19 and protect the health and well-being of Missourians. Today, the Missouri Democratic Party approved significant changes to our convention schedule which will allow us to conduct essential party business while lowering the risk of coronavirus transmission.
The Missouri Democratic Party will immediately postpone all delegate selection proceedings by seven weeks, to begin on May 30th, and will reorganize our process to limit the number of meetings. These meetings are still planned to be in-person on May 30th, but we have passed provisions to allow for virtual meetings if we later need to offer that option. We have additionally provided provisions to allow for delegates to fill delegate spots if they are not in attendance, which will help remedy potential future low attendance and ensure we allow the process to be Democratic. The Missouri Democratic Party will continue to monitor the situation carefully and may make future changes in consultation with public health experts.
This was not an easy decision to make, however we are currently in the middle of one of the worst public health crises in the past century and the MDP is committed to doing our part to keep our party members, candidates, elected officials, and the public at large safe during this difficult time.”
Below is a more detailed explanation of the changes adopted by the Missouri Democratic State Committee. These changes are set to expire after the Missouri Democratic State Convention:
On Delegate Selection Proceedings:
MASS MEETINGS: All mass meetings scheduled on April 6th are cancelled and the delegate selection plan will be updated to have all state delegates, which under the prior plan would have been elected at the mass meetings, to be elected at the congressional conventions instead.
- Previously, the state delegates elected at mass meetings on April 6th would then move on to the April 30th congressional convention and June 20th state convention. We are collapsing the first step of mass meetings to instead elect all state delegates at the congressional district conventions (postponed to be held on May 30th), and then those delegates will immediately proceed to elect the national convention delegates. This is to reduce the number of meetings held for safety purposes, and it still fulfills the process of electing state delegates who vote in congressional conventions and go onto the state convention to vote on resolutions, at-large national delegates, and DNC members.
- The total state delegation size will remain the same. The calculations for delegate apportionment and allocation will be done in accordance with how the current delegate selection plan details.
- The previous role of mass meeting chairs – county chairs, and ward and township committeepeople in St. Louis City, St. Louis County, and Jackson County – will be modified in accordance with moving state delegates to be elected at the congressional conventions. The Congressional Conventions will have an officer of a county committee that falls within the congressional district serve as the Secretary for the Congressional Convention meeting, rather than the Secretary of the Congressional District Committee.
- Form MM (filing to run for a state delegate) may now be filed in advance by May 15th so that state delegate candidates who do not attend in person may still be considered to fill vacancies. They may still be filed in-person at the Congressional Conventions on May 30th so that those coming in person, who have not pre-filed, may still run as state delegates. The pre-filing forms will be used to fill vacant state delegate positions. Those who have already prefiled their Form MM will remain valid.
- Public calls for all meetings will be due to be disseminated 30 days prior to any meeting.
CONGRESSIONAL CONVENTIONS: All congressional conventions scheduled on April 30th are postponed to May 30th.
- State delegates will be elected as the first step at the May 30th congressional conventions, and then will immediately proceed to elect the national district-level delegates from each congressional district.
- The congressional district chair will act as the meeting chair during the entirety of the in-person meeting, from electing state delegates to electing national delegates. Caucuses will still be formed for each respective candidate, which will have caucus chairs that report results to the meeting chair. The Congressional Conventions will have an officer of a county committee that falls within the congressional district serve as the Secretary for the Congressional Convention meeting, rather than the Secretary of the Congressional District Committee.
- In the event that in-person congressional conventions are not recommended by federal, state, and local public health authorities, the MDP will officially chair each congressional convention in order to run teleconferencing and/or video conferencing software to conduct the convention.
- Delegates elected to the state convention will be elected in the same proportion as the original delegate selection plan indicated, granting the same number of delegate positions to each county, ward, or township as was allocated in the original delegate selection plan. Any vacancies not filled by state delegates afterward will be filled by those in attendance at the congressional convention and then those who pre-filed and will be selected by random drawing.
- District-Level national delegates may pre-file by May 15th and will be considered to run as national delegates if they are first elected as state delegates at the beginning of the congressional convention, or they may file and run in person at the Congressional Convention on May 30th.
2ND QUARTER STATE COMMITTEE MEETING & PLEO ELECTION: The 2nd quarter state committee meeting scheduled for May 9 will be held virtually via webinar or conference call. The business of electing PLEO delegates will be done via the webinar or conference call. PLEO delegates must still file online to run in advance by May 1st.
STATE CONVENTION: The State Convention, currently scheduled to be held on June 20th in Kansas City, will be relocated to a mid-Missouri location in Columbia, Jefferson City, or the Lake Ozarks area and potentially will have the date changed.
- The MDP bylaws provision on the state convention date are suspended to allow for a date change, as to be determined by MDP staff determining venue availability. This is to ease attendee’s travel and make contingency plans for date changes determined by MDP bylaws.
- Allow delegates to the state convention to carry up to (1) proxy vote for delegates who are unable to attend in-person conventions. These proxies must be instructed as to the vote preferences of the delegates not in attendance. Proxy instructions should be ranked whenever possible. Proxy votes will only be allowed for delegate selection and not for selection of DNC members. Proxies must be held by a delegate who is in the same congressional district as whom the proxy is for, in order to ensure geographic fairness.
- Allow unfilled state delegate positions after the congressional conventions to be automatically filled by those who filed in advance to run as a state delegate, which will accommodate those who want to run and are unable to attend their congressional convention. Random selection will be used to fill vacant delegate spots in order to ensure fairness.
The MDP will limit the business of all delegate selection proceedings to only essential items: Election of delegates and alternates, election of standing committee members, election of DNC members, and voting on resolutions. The Chair may rule non-essential business as out of order or add essential business to the proceedings.
Contingency measures for virtual meetings, remote balloting and/or voting and mail-in ballots will be developed as contingency plans for congressional and state conventions in the event that in-person gatherings are still a risk at those later dates. The Delegate Selection plan will be amended to allow for general virtual voting measures.
On General Proceedings, Office Protocol, Events, and Recommendations:
- The MDP will prohibit any official MDP in-person sponsored event or gathering from occurring from March 16th – May 1st. This includes fundraisers, party meetings, social events, trainings, delegate selection proceedings, etc.
- The MDP offices will not be available for the public from March 16th until May 1st. Only credentialed personnel will be permitted to access our offices on an as-needed basis. All MDP staff implemented a teleworking policy as of Friday, March 15th, until further notice. MDP has also cancelled all staff out-of-state travel until May 1st.
- We recommend our campaigns and local committees to only have meetings held virtually using Google Hangouts, Zoom, and conference calls and we and our partners in the House Caucus will help facilitate the use of online technology for our committees and campaigns to use to organize and carry on. We and our House Caucus partners are developing a series of recommendations on virtual and online organizing tactics for our campaigns to utilize, as well as health, medical, and other guidance.
- In regards to canvassers, the MDP recommends that all canvassing stops until further notice. In order to win majorities in November, we have a lot of persuadable voters we need to connect with. The best way to do that is phones, email, digital apps, and other internet communications. Don’t stop campaigning, this election is as critical as any in our lifetimes, but let’s begin to change the nature of our campaign efforts to consider the public health reality.
- We have developed a Coronavirus FAQ, a campaigning while coronavirus guide, and Mass Meeting and Congressional Convention Chair Guidance, which will be updated daily to reflect new information and guidance and found at http://www.missouridemocrats.org/coronavirus
On Rules & Bylaws:
- Loosening the requirements on party notification of events: forgo notification requirements for party meetings and conventions when reason and justification is provided.
- Allow party state and local committees to conduct conventions, meetings, and proceedings via telephonic, internet, or other electronic means.
- In consultation with the Chair and Vice Chair of any Congressional District, the officers of the the Democratic State Committee are authorized to make alterations that may be necessary to achieve the purposes of the Delegate Selection.