Democratic caucuses Sunday are expected to bring less drama and about 10 percent of the participants compared with contested GOP caucuses last month, but local Democrats say they are important nonetheless.
There is only one candidate for Democrats this year -- incumbent President Obama -- but Regina Speer, chairwoman of the Benton County Democrats, told the Herald that this weekend's precinct caucuses are a chance to show support for Obama and his policies.
"I think the most important thing is to support the president and try to further the programs he has started," Speer said.
She said that although the country has been in a deep economic hole for the past few years, progress is being made and she sees hope on the horizon if Obama is re-elected.
"We clearly need to stay the course," she said. "We will get our financial house in order if we stay the course."
Benton County caucuses start at 1 p.m. at Hanford High School, 450 Hanford St., Richland, for all county precincts. Speer encouraged participants to arrive by 12:30 to check in.
Franklin County caucuses are at the Plumbers and Steamfitters Hall, 1328 N. Road 28, Pasco, also at 1 p.m.
Speer said the state party is predicting about 30 percent the number of people who turned out for Democratic caucuses in 2008, when Obama and Hillary Clinton still were vying for the party's nomination.
That would mean about 350 people coming to Benton County caucuses this year, she said.
By contrast, Benton and Franklin county Republican caucuses in early March drew more than 3,000 people. Benton County organizers were unprepared for the crowd at the Three Rivers Convention Center in Kennewick, where most of the county precinct caucuses were held, and an estimated 1,000 people were turned away.
High turnout was attributed to a combination of a hotly contested GOP primary season and the cancellation of the state's presidential primary this year to save money.
In addition to casting a vote for the Democratic presidential nominee, participants in Sunday's caucuses will select delegates to go to the legislative district conventions April 28 and possibly to the national convention in September in Charlotte, N.C.
"If you have any desire to go to the national convention this year, this is the time to do it," Speer said.
Speer said participants will get checked in faster if they know their precinct number, but the local party is not requiring voter identification to register.
"As Democrats, we have not accepted the idea of voter ID being mandatory," she said. "We believe people when they say they're registered voters."
For more information about Sunday's caucuses, go to www.wa-democrats.org/caucuses.