Some of the first votes cast in the Democratic race for the presidential nomination could be cast in North Dakota although the results won't be available until early March, according to Kylie Oversen, chair of the Democratic-NPL Party in North Dakota.
North Dakota residents can now request a mail-in ballot to vote in the Democratic presidential primary in North Dakota. The Iowa Democratic caucus is Feb. 3 and do not have a mail-in component with results announced as early as that night.
"It is exciting for us," she said. "... we probably won't generate the interest of the Iowa caucuses or New Hampshire primary."
For what is believed to be the first time ever, the Democratic Party in North Dakota is allowing mail-in voting during its caucus to determine who North Dakota delegates will back for the presidential nomination during the party's convention in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
"In 2016, we had a traditional caucus where people who wanted to cast a vote had to be at a certain place at a certain time to attend a caucus," Oversen said. "This year we have the mail-in option as well as the in-person caucuses on March 10."
The mail-in voting and caucus participation are open to anyone who will be an eligible voter for the Nov. 3 general election.
"We do ask they all sign a pledge to support the Democratic Party," Overson said. "... only the presidential race is on this ballot. The Democratic candidates for all the other races will be on the June primary."
Oversen said the changes to the caucus process follow guidelines from the National Democratic Party and are designed to increase party participation.
The 12 names on the caucus ballot are: Michael Bennet, Joe Biden, Michael R. Bloomberg, Pete Buttigieg, John Delaney, Tulsi Gabbard, Amy Klobuchar, Deval Patrick, Bernie Sanders, Tom Steyer, Elizabeth Warren and Andrew Yang.
Alex Rohr, communications director for the North Dakota Democratic-NPL Party, said all candidates receiving more than 15% of the caucus vote will receive a proportional allocation of the North Dakota delegation at the national convention.
Lori Carlson, local Democratic party leader in Jamestown, said the long list of names will help improve participation in the caucus process.
"I think it is exciting," she said. "The Democratic party is so diverse, I think we have people backing all of the candidates."
Voters can request mail-in ballots from now through Feb. 25. The completed ballot must be postmarked by March 5 in order to be counted. Information is available at www.demnpl.com/primary or 1-877-455-9367.
Carlson said a local caucus, called a "firehouse caucus" in Democratic press releases, will be held from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on March 10 in a location yet to be determined in Jamestown.