DNC's roll call across America a highlight of a largely virtual convention

The video call showcased the country's geographic and cultural diversity.

August 19, 2020, 12:03 AM

With the 2020 Democratic National Convention largely a virtual affair, the traditional delegate roll call was also conducted remotely.

Instead of taking place in an arena, the votes were announced in engaging live and prerecorded messages spanning the country, with varying vistas as backdrops. A diverse selection of delegates, voters, parents, teachers, small business owners, activists and leaders in the Democratic Party participated in the nominations. Many on social media praised the highly-coordinated affair that showcased the country's cultural and geographic diversity.

DNC Secretary Jason Rae kicked things off live from the Wisconsin Center in Milwaukee, where the roll call was supposed to physically take place this year. Then it was off to Alabama, "at the site of a major step forward in our national journey toward justice," Rae said.

From the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Rep. Terri Sewell, D-Ala., announced that Alabama had cast eight votes for Bernie Sanders and 52 votes for Joe Biden.

"John Lewis marched across this bridge in 1965 to demand the right to vote," Sewell said. "A lifetime later, civil rights and voting rights remain America's great unfinished business. But those who walked this path before us showed us the way forward. If we want to honor John Lewis's incredible life, let's restore the Voting Rights Act and ensure our democracy belongs to all Americans."

Some used their nominating speeches to touch on other pressing national issues, such as misinformation about mail-in voting, gun safety and immigration.

PHOTO: Rep. Terri Sewell of Alabama speaks during the roll call during the second night of the Democratic National Convention, Aug. 18, 2020.
Rep. Terri Sewell of Alabama speaks during the roll call during the second night of the Democratic National Convention, Aug. 18, 2020.
Democratic National Convention via AP

In a lighter moment, Rhode Island began trending on Twitter after State Rep. Joseph McNamara, D-R.I., appeared on screen accompanied by a plate of calamari -- the official state appetizer.

In all, it was a 30-minute virtual tour of 57 states and territories that culminated in the alphabetically-out-of-order Delaware. Earlier in the roll call, Gov. John Carney and Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., had somewhat confusingly passed. But when they reappeared at the end of the roll call to announce all 32 votes for "our favorite son" Biden, a former Delaware senator and resident, the symbolism became apparent.

Biden had clinched the nomination well before the roll call returned to Delaware. With North Carolina, Biden surpassed the required 2,374 delegates to win the nomination. He briefly appeared at the end of the roll call to say thanks.

Biden's vice presidential nominee, Kamala Harris, won't appear at the DNC until Wednesday night. But for those wondering, she was watching the roll call from home. Her husband, Doug Emhoff, tweeted a photo of her wearing a sweatshirt bearing her alma mater, Howard University, with the caption, "Kamala is loving this roll call."

Tweeting herself, Harris called the virtual event a "spectacular roll call that showed the heart and soul of our nation."

Biden will formally accept the nomination on Thursday, when he delivers his speech in Wilmington, Delaware.

ABC News' Alisa Wiersema contributed to this report.

This report was featured in the Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2020, episode of “Start Here,” ABC News’ daily news podcast.

"Start Here" offers a straightforward look at the day's top stories in 20 minutes. Listen for free every weekday on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, the ABC News app or wherever you get your podcasts.

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