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Texas Democrats shift to digital state convention amid coronavirus outbreak

Texas Democrats shift to digital state convention amid coronavirus outbreak
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The Texas Democratic Party is scrapping plans for an in-person state convention and will instead move the event online amid concerns about the coronavirus outbreak. 

The convention was slated to take place in San Antonio from June 4-6. But officials in Bexar County, where San Antonio is located, approved an emergency public health declaration last week barring gatherings of more than 10 people.

"COVID-19 has impacted every facet of our lives," Gilberto Hinojosa, the chairman of the Texas Democratic Party, said in a statement. "To keep people safe, engage Texans everywhere, and adapt to the challenges we face, the 2020 Texas Democratic Convention will take place online. Our tactics have changed, but our goals for 2020 have not."

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The party said that more details on the virtual convention would be announced next month. 

Hinojosa said that moving the state convention online would also make the event accessible to a larger group of people by removing barriers like travel costs and time off from work.

“Make no mistake, there will be a Texas Democratic Convention, and the Party’s business will be done. Next month, there will be additional announcements and detailed instructions for what you can expect at our convention and how participation will occur,” he said.

The decision to move the state convention to a digital platform comes as both the Democratic National Committee and Republican National Committee grapple with how to hold their scheduled nominating conventions this summer if the coronavirus pandemic doesn’t subside.

So far, both parties have indicated that they are sticking with existing plans. But a spokesperson for the committee planning the Democratic National Convention said last week that officials were “exploring a range of contingency options” in the event that the current plans proved too risky.

Still, the Texas Democratic Party’s decision to move its convention online underscores the extent to which the coronavirus pandemic has upended or altered traditional election year events. 

Candidates up and down the ballot have called off in-person campaign events in recent weeks and have ramped up digital efforts. And several states have delayed scheduled primaries and caucuses out of concern that in-person voting could risk spreading the virus.