California Senate Approves Prime Time Primary Bill to Move Presidential Vote from Near Last to Top Tier of States

May 04, 2017

SACRAMENTO, CA – Today the California State Senate overwhelmingly approved the Prime Time Primary (Senate Bill 568) to shift the state’s presidential primary from near last to one of the first in the nation. SB 568 passed the Senate 32-6 with bipartisan support.

Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) introduced the Prime Time Primary to give the nation’s largest state a louder voice in the presidential selection.

Senate Bill 568 is sponsored by Secretary of State Alex Padilla.

“California is first in the nation on clean energy, on farming, on job growth, and in the diversity of our people,” said Senator Ricardo Lara. “The Prime Time Primary bill would make us one of the first states to hold a presidential primary and ensure our state’s voters are heard in the national debate.”

"The largest and most diverse state in the nation should not be an afterthought,” said Secretary of State Alex Padilla. “Moving our primary earlier will give Californians a greater say in nominating a President and will also increase voter engagement and turnout in down ballot races."

In 2008, California moved up its Presidential Primary to February resulting in the highest voter turnout since 1980. The goal of Senate Bill 568 is to put California’s presidential primary election in the top tier of states after Iowa and New Hampshire. Specifically, SB 568 calls for the California presidential primary to be held on the third Tuesday in March and authorizes the Governor to move it even earlier if other states move up their primary elections.

Senate Bill 568 also consolidates the state and presidential primary votes to boost voter engagement in statewide and legislative races that fall during a presidential election year.

Senate Bill 568 will go to the Assembly, where Assembly Speaker pro Tempore Kevin Mullin has introduced a similar bill.