Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Democrats to caucus next month

Voters to choose state convention delegates

Express Staff Writer

Despite the fact that the presumptive Democratic presidential candidate for the 2012 election is President Barack Obama, Blaine County Democrats will join their compatriots across the state next month to confirm that nomination in a presidential caucus.

The main event for the caucus will actually be the selection of delegates to the state convention on June 10, at which representatives from Idaho's 44 counties will hash out the state's Democratic Party platform.

Gini Ballou, chair of the Blaine County Democrats, said Tuesday that Blaine County deserves to have a voice in the state convention, and should not get complacent even though Democrats are such a minority in Idaho.

"Blaine County residents are totally real Idahoans, and we should have a say in the state [Democratic] platform," she said.

The caucus will take place beginning at 9 a.m. on Saturday, April 14, at Wood River High School in Hailey. Voters will arrive and sign pledge forms stating that they intend to vote for a Democrat in the general election.

The caucus is technically open to any registered voter, Ballou said, but they must sign the pledge form before casting a ballot.

"You're not bound to that, but [you have to say that] it is your intention to vote Democrat," she said.

After they cast ballots for Obama—the only candidate on the ballot—or state that they are still uncommitted, voters will nominate delegates from among those present. Blaine County will send 11 delegates to the state convention and elect two alternates to stand in for any delegates who are unable to serve.

"It's pretty low-tech," Ballou said with a laugh. "We have a big sheet of paper and write down the names of the nominees, then voters write the names in order of preference on their ballots."

Past delegates have included Rep. Wendy Jaquet, R-Ketchum, and Ballou said that typically, legislative representatives and party leadership in each county head to the state convention. However, she said, she'd love to see a younger crowd join.

"It's really open to anyone, and I would love to see people from high school government classes there," she said, adding that any resident who will be 18 years old by Election Day is eligible.

For more information, Ballou can be reached at 720-4347.

Katherine Wutz:

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