Dec 10, 2007

MDP release guidelines for Presidential Primary

With the Michigan 2008 Presidential Primary just five weeks away, the Michigan Democratic Party (MDP) released its voter guide to the Jan. 15, 2008 primary today.

Most of the guidelines apply to both political parties, and both state parties have been penalized by their respective national parties for holding an early primary. The Democratic National Committee voted to strip Michigan Democrats of all its 156 delegates to the national convention for violating party rules by choosing an early primary, and the national GOP said Michigan Republicans would lose half of their delegates at the convention for doing the same thing. The state GOP has not yet issued guidelines for the primary.

Perhaps the most important guideline is the deadline for registering to vote in the primary, and that is fast approaching. The deadline to register to vote is 30 days before the election, and that makes the date the close of business on Dec. 17, just a week away. Absentee voting is already taking place. Registered voters can vote by absentee ballot if they meet one of two requirements – they will be out of town for the election or they are age 60 or older or have a disability that will not allow them to go to the polls. If you meet one of those conditions and have not received an absentee ballot contact your local clerk.

Voters will cast their ballot at their regular polling places between the hours of 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Jan. 15. In order to vote at a polling place under new rules just put into place for last month’s general election, a voter must show a photo ID or sign a statement saying that they do not have a photo ID with them to vote. Absentee voters do not have to produce a photo ID. Voters will be asked whether they want a Democratic or Republican ballot, and a record will be made of which ballot they take. The voter’s choice of candidate will be secret as in all public elections.

All the names of the Republican candidates will be on the ballot, but that’s not the case for Democrats because some Democratic candidates requested their names be taken off the ballot to protest Michigan’s violation of the early primary rules. The Democratic ballot will have six choices: Hillary Clinton, Christopher Dodd, Dennis Kucinich, Uncommitted and Write in. A vote for “uncommitted” is a vote to send delegates to the Democratic National Convention who are not committed or pledged to any candidate. Those delegates can vote for any candidate they choose at the Convention. The MDP is suggesting that supporters of Joe Biden, John Edwards, Barack Obama or Bill Richardson should vote “uncommitted” instead of writing in their candidates’ names because write-in votes for those candidates will not be counted.

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