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Last Updated: Thursday, 23 August 2007, 01:04 GMT 02:04 UK
Michigan moves to advance primary
Workers at a Ford car plant in Michigan (file picture)
Michigan is at the heart of America's ailing automobile industry
The Senate in Michigan has voted to bring forward the state's presidential primary elections to 15 January 2008.

The move must still be approved by the state's House and governor but, if passed, is set to shake up the diary.

Iowa and New Hampshire, traditionally first to hold their contests, may have to move their dates forward to the New Year holiday or even late December.

National Democratic leaders have warned that states which seek to jump ahead in the primary calendar may be penalised.

Florida has already moved its contest for both parties to 29 January, while South Carolina's Republicans have pushed theirs up to 19 January in a bid to remain the first Southern state to vote.

In a presidential election year, states hold primaries, an election where voters indicate a preference for a candidate, and caucuses, party meetings to endorse candidates, to choose Democratic and Republican nominees.

Candidates who do not do well in early elections tend to drop out, so giving the states which decide first a greater say in the electoral process.

Sanctions threat

Michigan is the latest in a series of states to try to increase its influence by moving its primaries up the schedule.

14 Jan: Iowa caucus
19 Jan: South Carolina primary
22 Jan: New Hampshire primary
29 Jan: Florida
5 Feb: some 20 states including California, New York, New Jersey

Although its Senate has voted in favour of the move to hold a primary for both parties on 15 January, the legislation must still go to Michigan's house.

If approved there, the bill could go to the state Governor, Jennifer Granholm, next Wednesday at the earliest.

Bill Nowling, a spokesman for the Michigan Republican Party, said the state needed to advance its primary to focus the presidential candidates' attention on its big issues, such as the automobile industry and jobs.

Meanwhile, the Democratic National Committee is expected to meet on Saturday to discuss possible sanctions for state parties which have disobeyed the rules, such as Florida and potentially Michigan.

They have threatened to allow only half those states' delegates to attend the national convention next summer.

A raft of other states, including California, have opted to bring forward their elections to 5 February 2008, which has already been dubbed "Super-Duper Tuesday".

State laws

Michigan's potential move to 15 January has implications for New Hampshire, which has a state law determining that its primary be held at least a week before any other state's.

Map showing Michigan

It would mean New Hampshire Secretary of State William Gardner would have to move his state's primary forward to at least 8 January.

The shifting dates would also have an effect on Iowa, which has a state law that it must be the first to hold any kind of voting procedure.

That means the Iowa caucuses must come before the New Hampshire primary in the electoral calendar.

The Iowa caucus is currently set for 14 January, but the changes could mean Iowa officials having to decide whether to set the caucus for around New Year, or bring it forward to December this year.

Select from the list below to view state level results.

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