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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Before caucusing, Spokane Democrats should check their locations

More than 100,000 Washington Democrats are expected to spend part of Saturday morning showing support for a presidential candidate and talking politics at the party’s precinct caucuses.

But with more than 500 locations around the state for the activists to gather, party officials are urging caucusgoers to double-check the location on the website before leaving for the 10 a.m. meeting.

Some locations in the Spokane Valley were switched and listed incorrectly for two days when the state party’s caucus finder was activated last month. It was corrected as soon as it was discovered, Spokane County Democratic Chairman Jim CastroLang said.

But the Hillary Clinton campaign picked up some of those wrong locations and used them to send a mailer to voters in some of those districts, CastroLang said.

The two caucus sites, University High School and Horizon Middle School, aren’t far apart, and workers at both locations are aware of the problem. They will be directing people to the right place if they got bad information, he said.

One version of the county party’s list of caucus locations also had Precinct 4428 at two different locations. It’s also a precinct in which some voters got the wrong location from a Clinton mailer. That precinct, which is bounded by the Spokane River and Interstate 90 between Long and Barker roads, meets at University High School, 12420 E. 32nd Ave.

More than 119,000 people have preregistered to attend a caucus, but that’s not a requirement and party officials expect some to show up and register in the morning. To participate, a person must be a citizen and Washington resident who is willing to affirm they consider themselves a Democrat and be at least 18 by Nov. 8, the day of the general election.

Jamal Raab, a spokesman for the state party, said caucusgoers will cast two votes for their presidential preference: one after breaking into their precincts to judge the relative strength of the candidates, then a second after caucusgoers have a chance to discuss the candidates. The allocation of delegates will be made based on the second count, and the supporters of each candidate will pick delegates to attend the legislative district caucuses and county convention based on the relative strength of the candidates and the number of delegates allotted to that precinct.

In all, 27,170 delegates will be selected to go to the next level of meetings. The delegates to the national convention will be selected at the congressional district caucuses in May and the state convention in June.

The division of delegates between former Secretary of State Clinton and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders should be roughly the same as the support in the caucuses if neither drops out and the supporters selected as delegates to the next levels continue to participate.

State Democratic officials expect to have a count of delegates for each candidate from the precinct caucuses sometime Saturday afternoon.