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RNC: 5 territories, 59 delegates, zero electoral votes

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Cecilia Lifoifoi, left, and Claire Blanco, right, flew more than 18 hours to serve as alternate delegates at the Republican National Convention. (Source: Jennifer Bowen/RNN) Cecilia Lifoifoi, left, and Claire Blanco, right, flew more than 18 hours to serve as alternate delegates at the Republican National Convention. (Source: Jennifer Bowen/RNN)

TAMPA, FL (RNN) - Along with delegates from the 50 states and the District of Columbia who attend the Republican National Convention come a small contingent of delegates from U.S. territories.

Cecilia Lifoifoi, from the Northern Mariana Islands, lives 8,000 miles away from Tampa and had to cross an ocean to serve as an alternate delegate.

She says she and her husband, who is a delegate, spent 18 hours in the air traveling to the convention.

"We enjoy the crowd. We've come to know a lot of people [at the convention]," she said. "Our friends said 'You will have a good experience.' And 'Oh, we will see you on CNN and Fox News.'"

Claire Blanco, sporting a "Romney/Ryan 2012" hat and a jacket full of buttons, also is an alternate delegate from the Northern Mariana Islands.

"I wanted to see the convention. It's my first time here and it's exciting," she said.

The U.S. territories of Guam, American Samoa, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands all send delegates to the conventions.

The Northern Mariana Islands - located in the western Pacific Ocean - has nine delegates, along with Guam, American Samoa, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Puerto Rico has 23 delegates.

While Americans look to November for their chance to cast a vote in the presidential election, five U.S. territories have already done all they can for the electoral process. The conventions are the U.S. territories' only chance at having a say in who the next president is.

Back in March, residents of the American territories participated in primaries for the next GOP presidential nominee - and that's all the voting for president they will be allowed to do.

All but two of the combined 59 delegates allotted to the territories went to Romney. He was officially announced as the GOP nominee for president Tuesday at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, FL.

Delegates from territories can help nominate a candidate at the convention, but citizens of territories ultimately can't vote for a presidential candidate in the general election in November because only residents of states are allowed to participate.

Both the Democratic and Republican parties have willingly given territories the chance to nominate a potential president, a move that was allowed because neither the Constitution nor federal law prohibits it, and sometimes candidates need all the delegates they can get.

Delegates pay their own way to the convention, making this an expensive show of support.

But one that's worth it for Lifoifoi.

"We wanted to make sure Mitt Romney is [the president]," she said.

Copyright 2012 Raycom News Network. All rights reserved.

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