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Democrats face uncertainty around roll call timing amid questions about Biden’s political standing

By Arit John and Ethan Cohen, CNN

(CNN) — The party announced May 28 it would hold a virtual roll call ahead of the Democratic National Convention to comply with Ohio law. That decision – made well before the June 27 debate – could now help tamp down efforts to convince the president to step aside after a disappointing performance last month.

Amid questions of whether President Joe Biden will remain the Democratic nominee, there is also uncertainty around when delegates will vote to make his nomination official.

But it has also led to a flood of questions about when and how Biden will be nominated.

As of now, it’s not clear how long delegates – including the nearly 4,000 pledged to Biden – will have to vote for the nominee, or when the process will start or end.

According to convention nomination talking points circulated by the Democratic National Committee last week, the electronic roll call vote will happen by August 7, but no decisions have been made on the format or timing of the vote.

A DNC spokesperson told CNN that no date has been decided for the electronic roll call.

Biden, who won about 99% of his party’s delegates, is expected to become the official nominee when the vote is complete.

The DNC’s convention rules panel is expected to meet July 19 and its credentials committee is expected to meet July 21. Both meetings will be streamed on the committee’s YouTube page.

Originally, the electronic roll call was meant to avoid further ballot access issues for the president.

Earlier this year, the office of Ohio’s Republican Secretary of State Frank LaRose informed Democrats that their party convention, which will take place from August 19-22, would fall after the state’s deadline for submitting the party’s official nominee. LaRose said he would not accept a provisional certification and efforts to push back the deadline in the state’s Republican-controlled legislature dragged.

After weighing possible options, including litigation, the DNC opted to hold a virtual roll call vote. The committee stuck with the plan even after Ohio enacted a law that would push back the deadline to after the convention.

On June 3, LaRose sent guidance to county election officials informing them of the new timeline.

One day later, the DNC Rules and Bylaws committee approved an amendment, which was then approved by the full DNC, allowing the DNC convention’s rules and credentials committees to set up the process to conduct the virtual roll call.

At that June 4 meeting, DNC Rules and Bylaws committee co-chair Minyon Moore, who also chairs the national convention, argued that the Ohio legislature had proven to be “untrustworthy stewards of voting rights” in the past, and raised concerns the state could undo their law delaying the certification deadline. She noted that the law delaying the deadline doesn’t go into effect until August 31.

“We cannot leave our democracy or our rights, or the rights of Ohio voters in their hands,” Moore said in the meeting.

At the time there were concerns that a virtual roll call would dampen enthusiasm at the actual convention. Carol Fowler, a DNC member on the rules and bylaws committee, urged the committee to make the experience worthwhile for delegates traveling to Chicago during the June 4 meeting.

“Whatever you can do to give the actual delegates in the actual convention hall the most opportunity there is to participate and to do things that mean something, not just sit there and listen to speeches,” Fowler said. “Give them some opportunities to vote.”

Moore said her team had worked with that in mind.

“I assure you that we will be taking all of that into account,” she said.

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