Choosing Your Convention Delegates

Montgomery, Ala. (WSFA) -- Start counting. Tuesday Alabamians will be taking part in the earliest presidential primary election ever in the state. State lawmakers moved the primary up four months to make Alabama's voice in the presidential primary election louder! The decision has already brought more politicians to our state than normal. So when you vote, who are you voting for - the candidate or a delegate to the convention?

The party conventions are considered the super bowl of the political set. Every four years history is made there because it's where the official nomination for president is decided. That's why every candidate is trying to stack the convention with people who are committed to vote for him or her. And, Alabama's delegates will be deciding next Tuesday on election day. The Executive Director of the Democratic party said.  "When you go to vote you'll be given a ballot with a stripe along the side. Green is for democrats and blue is for republican. You'll also notice there are a lot of other names on the ballot than just the presidential candidates."

Those are the delegates who the voters will choose to send to the party's convention this summer and fall. The democrats will send 60 delegates and 9 alternates. 34 of those 60 and 7 of the alternates will be decided on Tuesday. Spearman adds. It's not about states now. It's about congressional districts...and winning delegates."

The delegates whose names are on the ballots come from the various congressional districts. The problem is, Spearman says, you will be picking names you probably don't even recognize. "In the past that has given a slight advantage  to people that are at the top of the ballot because you get to vote for up to four males and four females."And former Executive Director of the Republican party, Tom Howe, agrees. "Only hard core party activists will recognize the names of the delegates on the ballot. Otherwise, it becomes a situation where by and large you're voting for people you don't know."

They suggest talking to friends and reading up on the delegates. The republicans will send 48 delegates to the convention and 48 alternates. 45 will be decided by the voters.

And, you're only allowed to choose the delegates under the name of the candidate of your choice. Otherwise, the vote for those delegates won't count. And, for the republicans, Hopwe says whoever gets the most votes could carry a lot of weight. "Alabama is a winner take all state. On the republican side, if any candidate gets 50% or greater they get all the delegates and they'll go to the convention with all 48 delegates."

However, if a republican candidate doesn't get 50% then like the democrats the delegates are divided up by the per centage of people who voted for the candidates.

The parties say, being a delegate is a labor of love because the delegates have to pay for all of their expenses which could come to about $2,500.

The democratic convention is in Denver in August and the republican convention's in Minneapolis in September.

Reporter : Eileen Jones