Democrats here will caucus Saturday
By By JAMES COLLINS / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- Michigan residents will have their chance to play a role in determining the next Democratic candidate for President by voting in Saturday's Michigan Democratic Presidential Caucus.
The Feb. 7 caucus will mark the earliest and most accessible caucus in state history.
Michigan is the first state to ever give voters the option of voting on the internet.
Voters have been allowed to apply for online voting since Jan. 1. They also have had the options of voting through the mail or going to one of the 590 caucus sites on Saturday and voting in person.
Johnie Rodebush, chairman of the Howard Township Democratic Party and the caucus site manager for Howard Township Hall, said the fact that people are able to submit votes on the internet make it hard to predict how many people will turn up at the actual caucus sites.
He said there could be anywhere from less than 100 to more than 700 voters at the Howard Township Hall caucus site.
The caucus sites will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday.
In order to vote in the caucus, you must vote at the appropriate site for your particular residency.
For City of Niles residents, the caucus site will be at Niles High School, located at 1441 Eagle St.
For residents of Niles Township, Bertrand Township, Buchanan and Buchanan Township, the caucus site will be at Niles Township Hall, located at 320 Bell Rd.
For residents of the Townships of Howard, Calvin, Porter, Mason, Ontwa, Milton, Newberg and Jefferson, the appropriate caucus site will be at the Howard Township Hall, located at 1400 Barron Lake Rd.
Voters must show some form of written identification that provides proof of residency for that particular area and they must turn 18 years old by the Nov. 2 election.
Rodebush said the written identification does not require a picture and can be anything from a driver's license to a utility bill. You don't have to be a registered voter to vote in the caucus.
Rodebush explained there will be three posts at each caucus site.
First, there is a resident checker, who checks identification to verify that each voter lives in the appropriate area for the caucus site.
Second, there is a vote checker, who goes through a list of voters who have already voted through the internet and mail to make sure that you have not already voted in the caucus.
The third post is the distribution and collection of the ballots.
The ballots include voting for the Presidential candidate, selecting the two most important issues to you in the upcoming election, a declaration that you are a Democrat and a signature.
Rodebush said Republicans and other party members are also welcome to vote in the caucus, but they will have to declare that they are Democrats on the ballot.
Rodebush said he expects John Kerry and John Edwards to be running the closest in Saturday's caucus. "I am not really backing anyone for sure yet," Rodebush said.