Due to snags in approval of North Carolina's legislative redistricting plan and a Democratic National Committee requirement that delegate selection be finished by early June, the North Carolina Democratic party has established caucuses to determine candidate preferences from North Carolina at the Democratic National convention.
North Carolina's 20 at-large delegates will be allocated proportionately to any candidate getting at least 15 percent of the caucus vote statewide, and the same 15 percent rule will apply in each congressional district, where from four to six delegates will be elected. (The Fourth District, composing all of Durham and Orange, north Chatham, and western Wake is the only district getting six delegates).
Caucus voting will take place from 8 a.m. to noon across North Carolina. Registered North Carolina Democrats can vote at any of the sites regardless of which county the voter is registered in. Cutoff for voter registration and party changes for the caucus is April 9.
While the word "caucus" may conjure up the image of a packed room of voters arguing for three hours about their preferences, in fact the process could be better referred to as "primary lite." Democrats arriving at the caucus site will "register their participation by completing a form ... containing pertinent voter registration information for the attendee, declaring their presidential candidate preference or uncommitted preference, and signing a statement of support for that preference and an oath that the voter registration information of the attendee is true and accurate. The form shall then be returned to designated caucus officials."
Unlike a primary, the signed ballots will be open to public inspection for 90 days after the caucus. The choices on the ballot will be Howard Dean, John Edwards, John Kerry, Dennis Kucinich, Al Sharpton, and uncommitted. The ballots will be counted at each site at noon and statewide totals will be available later that day. Counts by congressional district may have to await the canvass of the votes a week later, since the ballots will be sorted by congressional districts and recounted at a central location. Wake County, for example, is in three congressional districts,
There is also absentee voting for any voter who cannot make it to a caucus site "as a result of sickness or physical disability or religious reasons" (Saturday is the Sabbath for Jews and some other denominations). To get an absentee preference form, voters must state the reason, and send the written request to be received no later than April 9, 2004 to:
North Carolina Democratic Party
Absentee Caucus Request
220 Hillsborough St., Raleigh, NC 27603
Triangle Caucus Sites
514 Method Road
1515 Crosslink Road
4200 Quail Hollow Drive
4011 Carya Drive
1001 Leon St.
909 Cobb St.
2410 East Main St.
3400 Fayetteville St.
306 North Columbia St.
106 East Margaret Lane
45 South St.