As it threatened, the Democratic Party's Compliance Assistance Commission has ordered the Minnesota party to change the date of its precinct caucuses from Feb. 23 or Minnesota delegates won't be seated at the national convention.

"It confirms our worst fears that they would come down with real hard sanctions," said Ruth Esala, chairwoman of the state Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party. She has received a letter from the commission listing penalties for noncompliance with national party rules.

National rules say the presidential delegate-selection process may not start before March 8, although Iowa and New Hampshire have been exempted.

The precinct caucus date was set for both parties by the Minnesota Legislature. The commission ordered the state party to change the caucus date by Nov. 5. But, "short of a legislative change, it's not going to happen," Esala said.

Esala said she will appear before the commission Oct. 6 in Washington to ask for an exemption, but is not optimistic.

Under the national party rules it would take a special vote of the convention to seat the Minnesota delegation next July.

Another penalty that could be imposed because of the state's noncompliance is removal of Minnesota from lotteries to be held Oct. 6 for the seating location of state delegates on the convention floor and for hotel rooms.