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Colorado GOP Gearing Up For February Caucuses

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Colorado flag (credit: CBS)

Colorado flag (credit: CBS)

DENVER (AP) - Colorado Republicans are wasting no time educating voters on party caucus plans.

The party has set up an Internet page for the statewide party caucuses, which will be held Feb. 7. The national election season kicks off Tuesday with caucuses in Iowa.

In a presidential election year, Colorado political parties may choose to hold their precinct caucus on the first Tuesday in February. The caucuses were previously scheduled for March 6. Republicans moved their state caucuses to early February to have a bigger role in this year’s presidential races.

Colorado Democratic Party chairman Rick Palacio said Tuesday his party will still hold its caucuses on March 6 because the state party is expected to stick with Obama, and the party wants to give county clerks time to make changes.

“I don’t think it necessarily affects Colorado’s significance. This goes beyond when the caucuses are held,” Palacio said, noting that only about a third of Colorado voters are registered Republicans. The rest are Democrats or unaffiliated.

Colorado Republican Party Chairman Ryan Call said the party is investing in new technologies to help caucus-goers find their caucus locations and pre-register. Call said the GOP goofed when it allowed Democrats to capture voters using social media including Facebook and Twitter four years ago and he won’t let that happen again.

“They were more effective using the new technology,” he said ruefully.

Call said voters this year can expect to see more videos on websites and cell phones, quick responses to Democratic claims and broadcasts targeted at specific groups including women and Hispanics.

Call said previously that party members worried if they wait until March, the nominations may have already been secured. Both parties have said Colorado, which chose President Barack Obama in 2008, could prove crucial in the 2012 presidential contest.

Colorado can make the change without penalty from the Republican National Committee because the caucus doesn’t determine delegates. That happens in a separate process in April; the results typically follow the caucus decisions, but delegates aren’t bound by them.

San Miguel County Republican Party Chair Cherrie Kell said there may be some confusion because precinct lines will not be finalized until Jan. 9 due to reapportionment and redistricting that occurs every 10 years.

“If your precinct location is not available now, it will be shortly after the 9th. If you choose to pre-register for your caucus, your location will be emailed to you as soon as it is updated in our system,” Kell told voters.

Call said he contacted county clerks and the secretary of state’s office and he was assured they could meet the deadlines.

GOP participants must be registered Republicans as of Dec. 7 and precinct residents by Jan. 9.

- By STEVEN K. PAULSON, Associated Press

(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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