Wednesday deadline for caucus registration

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If someone wants to participate in next year's election caucuses Feb. 5, they need to register with a political party by Wednesday.

By law in Colorado, residents have to register with a political party to participate in its caucus, said Lila Herod, Moffat County clerk and recorder's office chief deputy.

"It's all sneaking up this year because everything is two months earlier than it has been before," Herod said.

The Democratic and Republican committees in Colorado made a joint decision to move up the caucuses earlier in the year, Herod said.

The Colorado primaries are scheduled for Aug. 12, 2008.

A caucus is a forum for members of a political party to meet and debate which issues are important, and which of the party's candidates best serves those issues.

The 2008 caucuses will affect next year's local county elections and the presidential primaries, Herod said.

Caucuses help designate which candidates appear on the ballots during the primaries, then the primary elections choose which candidate appears in the general election.

Caucuses are one avenue a candidate can follow to be on the ballot during the primary elections.

Candidates also can get on the primary ballot with a signed petition, Herod said. In that case, they need a percentage of the vote total from the last election.

Beyond that, candidates can ask their supporters to vote for them as a write-in.

Primaries are generally accepted when there is not a large number of candidates. Ordinarily in that situation, there are enough delegate votes to go around for everyone trying to get on the ballot to make it, Herod added.

When there are larger numbers of candidates, it's unusual for all of them to get enough support in the caucuses, and that's mostly when candidates seek petitions, Herod said.

For local elections, caucuses select delegates to attend the county assembly - planned for May 2008 - where the assembled delegates for each political party select their party's candidate.

National elections have a few more steps, Herod said.

The county assembly selects delegates for the state assembly, which selects delegates for the national assembly.

Caucus participation is typically very low in Moffat County, Herod said.

"I have been a precinct captain for my precinct for several years," she said. "I'm in Precinct 3, which is one of the largest precincts here, and we generally have 30 to 40 people show up."

People in Moffat County generally show more interest in local elections than national ones, Herod said.

Locally, two county commissioners, Tom Gray and Saed Tayyara, are up for re-election to their second terms, as well as the county surveyor, Lloyd Powers.

Term limit laws allow for individuals to serve as county commissioners for two, two-year terms, Herod said. If the people re-elect Gray and Tayyara, they would have to wait one term before running again.

Collin Smith can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 209, or cesmith@craigdailypress.com

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