Not every delegate to this month's Democratic National Convention (search) is pledged to John Kerry (search) — at least on paper.

Nearly one-fifth of the 4,300-plus delegates will attend the convention in Boston as representatives of Kerry's former rivals.

Of Maine's 35 delegates, 11 are pledged to Kerry, seven to Howard Dean (search) and six to Dennis Kucinich (search).

In the end, however, most of the delegates are expected to vote for the Massachusetts senator to formally become the Democrats' presidential nominee.

Just in case there were any lingering doubts, Kerry's defeated foes in the next couple weeks are expected to specifically encourage their delegates to back Kerry.

John Edwards will have over 530 pledged delegates at the convention, a weak second to Kerry's nearly 3,000. But the North Carolina senator's intentions are clear: since Edwards is now Kerry's running mate, his delegates are expected to fall into the Kerry column.

At least 2,163 delegate votes are needed to secure the nomination.

The other former candidates have already thrown their own support behind Kerry, though in past years, some delegates for also-rans have waited for their candidate's "blessing" before officially voting for the front-runner.

Such announcements are likely to come via the Kerry campaign over the next few days.

Dean, the former Vermont governor, will meet with his 100-plus delegates on July 26, the first day of the four-day convention, to encourage them to support Kerry, Dean spokeswoman Laura Gross said.

No other candidate topped 100 delegates. Kucinich, the Ohio congressman, has at least 64 delegates and says he will unite his supporters behind Kerry at the appropriate time but has offered no timetable.

"John Kerry ran a good campaign and we're all going to close ranks and make sure that he gets elected," Kucinich said.

Asked when he would release his delegates, Kucinich said: "It's all being worked out right now. We are going to unite and we are going to win."

Andrew Rivera, treasurer for Al Sharpton's suspended presidential campaign, said his office hasn't had discussions yet with Kerry staffers about Sharpton's roughly 20 delegates to the convention.

Representatives for retired Gen. Wesley Clark, who has at least 68 delegates, could not be reached.

Candidates who do well in primaries or caucuses are eligible for "pledged" delegates to the convention. Democratic Party rules say these delegates should cast their convention vote "in all good conscience (to) reflect the sentiments of those who elected them."

However, they aren't bound to vote for any candidate at the convention. That means delegates for the dropouts — or even Kerry — are free to support someone else, regardless of whether their candidate has released them.