Candidates for GOP convention could bog down Tenn. primary - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Candidates for GOP convention could bog down Tenn. primary

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Election officials are worried that voting in the state's presidential primary may get bogged down in Republican-heavy districts by long lists of people who want to represent candidates in the GOP presidential convention.

Voters in the Feb. 5 Republican primary will be asked to choose up to 15 delegates along with their preferred presidential candidate. The length of the GOP ballot could lead to delays, State Election Coordinator Brook Thompson said Wednesday.

"It may just turn out to be such a large ballot that in the counties that have a heavy Republican turnout, that I'm concerned about how long it's going to take," he said.

Democratic voters will only have presidential candidates to choose from since a direct vote does not factor into how the party selects its delegates. 

The polling places are the same for both parties, but voters can only vote in one party primary. Republicans will be asked to select 12 at-large delegates and three more from their congressional district.

The top five or six Republican presidential campaigns will each try to have about 20 at-large potential delegates and up to six per congressional district, Thompson said. A final list of potential GOP delegates wasn't expected until Thursday, he said.

Thompson said recent GOP presidential primaries did not involve as many serious contenders as this election cycle. In 2004, President Bush had no serious opponent, and by the time Tennessee voted in 2000 there were only two major candidates remaining.

"As we stand here today we have two wide-open races, and that's fairly uncommon," Thompson said.

But turnout in primaries is historically much lighter than in general elections which may alleviate some concerns over the long Republican ballot, Thompson said. He also acknowledged that many voters won't take the time to peruse the lengthy list of potential delegates after casting their vote for the presidential nomination.

Early voting for the primary runs from Jan. 16 through Jan. 31. 

State election officials are only responsible for counting the votes for GOP delegates, but it will be up the party to decide who gets sent to the convention, Thompson said.

A spokesman for the state Republican Party did not immediately return an e-mail message seeking comment.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

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