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Coronavirus Pandemic Changes How Voters Watch Party Conventions


So the Democratic National Convention is virtual this year. And that means no more watch parties in bars or restaurants. But there are some people who love this tradition, and they really don't want to let it go. In Charlotte, N.C., two friends held a mini watch party at their Democratic headquarters with the emphasis on mini. Here's NPR congressional reporter Claudia Grisales.

CLAUDIA GRISALES, BYLINE: For the first time in five months, Jane Whitley and Stephanie Collins-Frempong visited the Democratic Party's headquarters in east Charlotte together.

JANE WHITLEY: It's great seeing her (laughter). I didn't realize it had been that long.

GRISALES: Whitley is Democratic chair for the surrounding Mecklenburg County. She's a retired financial services worker. And she's been FaceTiming with Collins-Frempong since March. They decided it's been long enough since their last face-to-face visit, even if it meant being socially distanced and with masks on.

WHITLEY: It's nice seeing people in person.

GRISALES: Whitley and Collins-Frempong, both delegates, were supposed to be on the floor of the Democratic National Convention last night.


GRISALES: That was Collins-Frempong's reaction upon entering the party's Charlotte headquarters after months away.

COLLINS-FREMPONG: Happy to see Jane. I was happy to see that the office was still here. But I was sad because all the things that were planned.

GRISALES: But the old friends wanted to make the best of it, so the two had a special mini watch party with Southern food from a restaurant in the strip mall where the headquarters sits. Collins-Frempong, who teaches high school American history, brought a long her 9-year-old daughter Abigail. She said it was important that Abigail attend, too.

COLLINS-FREMPONG: Because she could say that, my mother whose part of this. My mother was here.


BENNIE THOMPSON: We the people call the 48th Quadrennial Democratic National Convention to order.


GRISALES: Over dinner and as the convention played on a large television screen, the friends sat socially distanced and were already making plans for four years from now.

WHITLEY: To reelect Joe Biden or elect a Democratic president again and be able to do that in the traditional way and welcome everybody in.

GRISALES: But last night, it was just the two delegates and 9-year-old Abigail. And this year, they'll be casting their convention votes from Charlotte. Claudia Grisales, NPR News, Charlotte, N.C. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Claudia Grisales is a congressional reporter assigned to NPR's Washington Desk.