Nevada Seeking to Switch Caucus to Primary to Become Early Voting State

February 16, 2021 Updated: February 16, 2021

Nevada Democrats are pushing to shift the state from holding a caucus for presidential elections to a primary system.

Nevada Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson introduced a bill this week that would place the primary elections on the calendar in mid-January of presidential election years.

Frierson said the bill “will lay the groundwork for Nevada to become the first state in the nation in the presidential nominating process.”

If approved, Nevada would leapfrog both New Hampshire and Iowa in the primary order.

The bill would also require Nevada’s top election official to move the primary even earlier if another state in the West tried jumping ahead of Nevada.

Early primary states can prove consequential in determining which candidate emerges as the pick of each major party, though President Joe Biden found his footing after initially stumbling in the 2020 primary.

“Nevada’s diverse population and first-hand experience in issues relating to climate change, public lands, immigration, and health care provide a unique voice that deserves to be heard first,” Frierson added in a statement.

Former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has backed the effort to shift Nevada to heightened importance in presidential primaries, and Nevada State Democratic Party Chair William McCurdy II said he backs the newly introduced legislation.

“Last year, Democrats did incredible work to make our caucuses more accessible by including early voting and introducing multilingual trainings and materials, but the only way we can bring more voices into the process is by moving to a primary,” McCurdy said, arguing Nevada “deserves” to be the first in primary season because it is “a majority-minority state with a strong union population and the power structure of the country is moving West.”

A Democratic National Committee spokesperson has told news outlets about possible changes to the primary system, saying, “Every four years, the DNC looks back at what worked and what didn’t work.”

New Hampshire Democratic Party Chairman Raymond Buckley told The Epoch Times in an emailed statement: “New Hampshire takes seriously every suggestion that we should not retain our first-in-the-nation status, and we believe that we have a strong argument for the Granite State to retain its place. The level of engagement involved in the electorate here is significantly different than anywhere else, and I think that is one of the arguments why New Hampshire should remain first. We will continue to work hard to ensure New Hampshire retains its first-in-the-nation status, and we’re confident we will succeed.”

The Nevada GOP and the New Hampshire Republican Party didn’t immediately return requests for comment.

New Hampshire law requires its primary be held at least seven days ahead of a “similar election” held in another state. The state’s top election official can decide what counts as a similar election and set the date of the primary.

“There have been laws over the years in other states to have a primary the same days as ours. We’ve had states move up and then back. We’ve had states try to move ahead of us and there have been bills in state legislatures concerning moving their dates,” New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner, a Democrat, told WMUR on Monday. “But we’ve been first for over 100 years.”

Gov. Chris Sununu, a Republican, said in a statement that he has “full confidence that New Hampshire will continue to serve as the gold standard with another first-in-the-nation primary next election cycle.”

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