Democrats in Washington, D.C., are going to the polls Tuesday in a non-binding presidential primary, just days ahead of the first major election contest in Iowa.

The primary in the U.S. capital is largely symbolic, with no delegates to be won and more than half of the major candidates skipping the ballot. It was scheduled ahead of the other primaries by local political leaders to highlight the fact that residents of the District of Columbia do not have voting representation in Congress.

Among the major candidates, only former Vermont Governor Howard Dean, civil rights activist Al Sharpton, Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich and former Senator Carol Moseley Braun are on the ballot.

Recent polls indicate a close race in the January 19 Iowa caucuses, with Mr. Dean in the lead, followed closely by Congressman Dick Gephardt of Missouri, Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts and Senator John Edwards of North Carolina.

Speaking in New York Tuesday, Congressman Gephardt said that President Bush has failed to address the root causes of terrorism. He accused Mr. Bush of practicing a foreign policy based on bluster and recycled Cold War taunts.

A total of nine Democrats are vying to represent the party in challenging President Bush in the November 2 presidential election.

Some information for this report provided by Reuters and AP.