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Democrats in Indonesia Cast First Votes in Tuesday Primary


U.S. Democrats living in Indonesia cast the first votes in the Super Tuesday round of primary elections. Chad Bouchard reports from Jakarta, where Senator Barack Obama was the favored candidate.

More than 100 members of the U.S. Democratic Party gathered in a Jakarta hotel to choose a candidate for the United States' presidential race early Tuesday morning.

Voting began at the stroke of midnight. Early results at the hotel indicated 75 percent of the Jakarta vote went to Senator Barack Obama, who spent some of his childhood years in Indonesia. The remainder went to Senator Hillary Clinton.

The Democrats Abroad group represents expatriate party members around the world. The group will have 11 votes at the party's national convention in August, which will select a candidate for the U.S. presidential race.

Democrats in more than 30 countries are voting over the next week by fax, mail and for the first time, over the Internet.

Robert LaMont, a registered Democrat who has worked outside the U.S. for 12 years, says it was comforting to use a ballot box instead of an absentee ballot.

"Yeah, once I tried to send - I lived in Mongolia, I tried to send in an absentee ballot but it didn't get there until long after the election," he said. "So it really felt like my vote was being counted. It was very, very, rewarding, you know, nice to have something physical in your hand and know that it's actually going to get counted."

More than 20 U.S. states are holding presidential primary elections on Tuesday, a day that has become known as Super Tuesday. The primaries help determine which candidates the Democratic and Republican parties will nominate for the November presidential election.

The chairman of Democrats Abroad in Indonesia, Arian Ardie, says about 200 Democrats registered to vote in Indonesia. He says being able to vote on-line in the Democratic primary gives tens of thousands of voters the ability to participate.

"It opens it up to people who live in countries where it would be difficult to form an American political organization, it opens it up to people who are literally living in jungles and doing great work but don't have access to polling stations and don't have regular access to mail," said Ardie.

As part of Tuesday's event, Obama's half-sister, Maya Soetoro-Ng, addressed participants over the phone.

Retired General Wesley Clark also spoke to the group and endorsed Clinton.

Republicans Abroad is independent of the Republican Party in the U.S. and does not have primary voting for those living overseas.

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