Caucuses may not influence presidential election

Caucus locations

All caucuses are held at 7 p.m. Feb. 5. Precincts are instructed to start immediately, and some may not admit anyone after that time.

Democrat caucus

All precincts report to the Center of Craig.

Republican caucuses

Precinct Location

1 Ridgeview Elementary School

2 Moffat County Fairgrounds Pavilion

3 Craig Intermediate School

4 Ladore Hall at Brown's Park

5 Moffat County High School Library

6 Maybell Community Center

7 Craig Middle School

8 Dinosaur*

9 East Elementary School

10 Hamilton Hall

11 Sunset Elementary School

12 Moffat County School District Administration Building

13 Colorado State University Extension Office, basement conference room

To find out what precinct caucus to attend, call Lila Herod, Moffat County Clerk and Recorder's Office chief deputy, at 824-9104.

Precincts are being instructed to hold presidential polls first.

*The Moffat County Republican Central Committee has not found a person to host the caucus for precinct 8, Central Committee Chairman Ron Danner said. If no one volunteers, precinct 8 will not have a caucus, he added. A precinct's residents are not permitted to take part in caucuses for other precincts.

— When residents attend the 2008 Colorado caucuses next week, they will be asked to elect party delegates, but their voices may not reach the presidential races at the national conventions, officials said.

Ron Danner, Moffat County Republican Central Committee chairman, and Matt Sugar, Colorado Democratic Party director of communications, said state laws do not require delegates to vote according to polls taken at local caucuses.

Sugar and Danner do not think this negatively affects Colorado voters against the national stage.

Although Colorado does not have an official presidential primary vote, they said, the state's caucus system brings people together locally.

"I think you do have a say - so, you just have to participate at this grassroots level," Sugar said.

The primary ballots in August will have state election candidates but will not have presidential candidates, said Elaine Sullivan, Moffat County clerk and recorder.

"It's the system we have to deal with," Sugar said. "You have to play with the cards you're dealt, and the Legislature has asked us to do this in a caucus and not in a primary."

This is the same process Colorado has used recently, except for two instances.

Colorado had presidential primaries in 1992 and 1996, said Lila Herod, Moffat County chief deputy clerk and recorder.

All sources said the Legislature decided to stop holding primary votes after that because of cost concerns.

This will be the first year the Colorado Democratic and Republican parties will release a presidential preference poll as part of the caucuses.

That poll should inform the parties, the candidates and the public as to which candidates Colorado supports, but there is no legal requirement for delegates elected at the caucuses to vote along the percentage lines of the caucus poll, Danner said.

The caucus process

Local caucuses in Colorado do nothing more than elect delegates to represent individual precincts at county conventions, Danner said.

After delegates are elected at the caucuses, they attend their party's county convention, and some are selected to attend the state convention and then the national convention.

At Republican county conventions, candidates must receive at least 30 percent of the delegate vote for their delegates to move on to the state convention.

State office candidates must receive 30 percent of the state convention delegate vote for their name to appear on the August primary ballot.

Presidential candidates must receive 30 percent of the state delegate vote for their delegates to vote for them at the Republican National Convention.

At Democratic county conventions, all candidates must receive 15 percent of the delegate vote, said Ted Crook, Moffat County Democrats chairman.

If a candidate does not receive 15 percent, his or her name is dropped and the delegates revote so those whose candidate was dropped can give their support to another candidate.

The process continues in the same way up to the national convention.

State office candidates may also go through a petition process and bypass the caucus and convention system. In that case, the candidate needs a number of signatures based on the total number of votes cast in the last general election for the position he or she is running for.

If the candidate meets the required number of signatures, his or her name must appear on the August primary ballot.

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