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The Missouri presidential primary will take place on February 5, 2008. After that, the process for selecting Missouri’s delegates who will nominate the party’s candidate for president in Denver at the Democratic National Convention will unfold at various levels through the beginning of May.

The first step is to be registered to vote by January 9, 2008. The second step is to actually vote in the February 5th presidential primary. If you don’t do so, you can’t be a delegate. Period.

Missouri Delegate Selection Plan for the 2008 Democratic National Convention [pdf]

…Participation in the Missouri delegate selection process is open to all voters who wish to participate as Democrats, who are residents of and registered voters in the political subdivision (ward, township, county, legislative district) which is holding the mass meeting, who are at least eighteen (18) years of age, who declare themselves to be Democrats, and are not members of any other political party. Every person attending a ward, township, legislative district, or county mass meeting shall sign a standardized declaration furnished by the Missouri State Democratic Committee that states he or she meets the qualifications as set forth in this section and indicates the address and telephone number of his or her permanent residence. They shall then receive a pledge of support form to be submitted to their caucus leader at the time caucuses are formed. This form shall also include a declaration of affiliation to the Democratic Party and confirm that they voted in the 2008 Presidential Democratic Primary

The party will check to see if you voted in the primary – it’s a public record. If you didn’t vote in the presidential primary and you somehow get selected in the early part of the process you will forfeit your position.

Missouri’s presidential primary vote is binding. The delegates will be allocated in proportion to the candidates’ percentage of votes in the primary as long as the candidate has reached a threshold of 15%.

If you want to try to get elected as a delegate to the national convention you must participate in all applicable meetings through the state party convention in May. No proxies are allowed. If you are otherwise eligible to participate (that is, you’ve been elected early in the process) and you don’t show up, you are not eligible to stand for election as a delegate at that level.

On February 28, 2008 the first of the mass meetings in the process will take place. It’s a convoluted process depending on where you live, so check the plan to see what applies to you.

On March 27, 2008 delegates to the national convention will be selected in the congressional district meetings. Each congressional district is allocated a specific number of delegates and alternates based on previous voting performance in presidential elections. That is, if you live in a predominantly Democratic district your area gets more delegates.

The party also has an affirmative action plan. Half the delegate and alternate positions are allocated to males, half are allocated to females. There are also allocations based on race and orientation. Since it is a very public record, if you run and are elected as a national delegate based on your orientation, everyone who’s paying attention, including people who didn’t previously know of your orientation, will know.

The state Democratic Committee will meet on April 5, 2008 to elect PLEO (party leader/elected official) delegates in proportion to the presidential candidates’ votes in the primary. PLEO delegates can be state wide office holders, large city mayors, and/or other prominent elected officials or party activists.

The state convention will be on May 10, 2008. At large national delegates will be elected there.

I was elected as a national delegate in 2000 at my congressional district meeting. I first had to get elected at my county meeting. I participated in the state convention and, of course, the national convention. In 1996 I was an alternate to the state convention, getting seated as a voting delegate when another individual couldn’t attend. I learned about the process by participating in it. In 2004 I was on the state committee – however, I had supported Howard Dean who did not meet the 15% threshold. I caucused with the Edwards meeting (I had a choice – Edwards or Kerry – no other candidates met the threshold) and cast my vote to elect Edwards delegates to the national convention. I am no longer on the state committee so I won’t be involved in that part of the process.

I plan on participating in the process as much as I am able (that is, county meeting, congressional district meeting, state convention) but I will not be running for a national delegate slot.

You can view the plan at the Missouri Democratic Party web site:

Missouri Delegate Selection Plan for the 2008 Democratic National Convention [pdf]

The Democratic National Convention will be in Denver, Colorado from August 25-28, 2008. If you want to try and participate as a delegate to the national convention you better start familiarizing yourself with the process and start planning now.

A few words of advice. Half the battle is in just showing up. Depending on a lot of other variables you just might find yourself in the right place at the right time.