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Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz announced the names of the 17 presidential candidates that will appear on the primary ballots Feb. 5, 2008.

At a press conference Monday, Bysiewicz said under Connecticut law she is required to choose the candidates based on the amount of national and statewide news coverage they receive. “It’s the largest number of candidates we’ve had on the ballot for a presidential primary in Connecticut,” she said.

The order of the candidates for the ballot will be randomly selected on Jan. 2. The Republican candidates include, Rudolph Giuliani, Michael Huckabee, Duncan Hunter, Alan Keyes, John McCain, Ron Paul, Mitt Romney, Tom Tancredo, and Fred Thompson. The Democratic candidates include, Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, Chris Dodd, John Edwards, Mike Gravel, Dennis Kucinich, Barack Obama, and Bill Richardson.

Nearly half the country will be voting in a presidential primary on Feb. 5, Bysiewicz said. But Republican Party Chairman Chris Healy was optimistic candidates would be visiting the Nutmeg state. “I think we’ll have a lot of impact because every vote is really going to count that day,” Healy said noting the proximity of Connecticut to New York and New Hampshire.

Bysiewicz said there’s still time if there’s a candidate that wishes to petition to get onto the ballot for Feb. 5, the deadline to collect signatures is Dec. 27. If a petitioning candidate is a Republican they will need to collect 4,100 signatures and a Democratic candidate would need to collect 6,600 signatures.

Bysiewicz said more than 40 percent of voters in the state are not affiliated with a party. She said those unaffiliated voters have until noon on Feb. 4 to register with a party, so they can vote in the primary. She said the deadline to switch party affiliations has already passed, but new voters have until Jan. 31 to mail-in their voter registration cards.

She said during U.S. Senator Joseph Lieberman’s primary against challenger Ned Lamont more than 50,000 people registered with the Democratic party in order to participate in the August primary.

She said there are currently 2 million active registered voters in the state.