updated 4/14/2006 7:17:46 PM ET 2006-04-14T23:17:46

At least eight states applied Friday to join Iowa and New Hampshire in voting early in the 2008 Democratic presidential contest.

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Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Michigan, Mississippi, Nevada and South Carolina had put in a bid by Friday afternoon. Democratic National Committee spokesman Damien LaVera said he wasn't sure how many more states might apply.

The DNC's Rules and Bylaws Committee agreed last month to let several other states more racially diverse than Iowa and New Hampshire choose their presidential favorites early.

Under a process that still must be approved by the rules committee and the full national committee, one or two states would be allowed to hold caucuses between Iowa and New Hampshire, while another one or two would hold primaries shortly after New Hampshire. In 2004, both Iowa and New Hampshire votes were in January. The rest of the states would hold their primaries and caucuses beginning in early February.

Next Thursday, representatives of some other states will be in New Orleans for the DNC's spring meeting to tell the committee why their states should be early ones.

New Hampshire is still trying to hold onto its spot as the nation's second presidential contest. Last week, lawmakers there passed legislation designed to keep any state from holding a caucus between Iowa and New Hampshire. The measure would allow the New Hampshire secretary of state to set the candidate filing date far earlier than usual, forcing presidential candidates to commit to the race before they know when the state will hold its primary.

New Hampshire could face sanctions if it doesn't comply with Democrats’ guidelines.

U.S. Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan and Democratic National Committeewoman Debbie Dingell of Michigan were instrumental in pushing for a special Democratic commission to look at changes in the Democrats' presidential calendar.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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