The Virginia Republican Party's delegate selection process is a complex mechanism involving local mass meetings in 130 jurisdictions across the state. It began in early February and will end shortly before the GOP's state convention in Norfolk May 31 and June 1.

To win the support of convention delegates, candidates for state office essentially "pack" the mass meetings with as many supporters as possible. Since as many as 10,000 Republicans may attend the Norfolk convention, some may be entitled to cast no more than one-fifth of a vote.

A total of 3,990 votes will be cast at the convention and candidates for governor, lieutenant governor and state attorney general will need 1,995 and one-fifth votes to win the party's nominations for the fall elections.

What makes the process still more complex is its three-month length and a provision that allows rules for the mass meetings to vary among the 130 jurisdictions. Some localities, for example, have yet to set the time and place for their meetings.

Since Virginia voters do not register by party, the meetings are open to any registered voter who is willing to declare support for the Republican Party. Many jurisdictions, however, require delegates to the state convention to "prefile" their candidacy with local party officials before the mass meetings.

The Democratic Party also uses a convention nominating process. All of its delegates will be selected at party mass meetings March 30 or April 1.