SACRAMENTO – The Prime Time Primary Act, authored by Senator Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) and sponsored by Secretary of State Alex Padilla, was passed by the State Assembly Committee on Elections and Redistricting today on a 4-1 vote.
The Prime Time Primary Act, Senate Bill 568, seeks to shift the state's presidential primary from near last to one of the first in the nation.
California typically has a June primary. The late timing dilutes California’s impact and influence in the Presidential Primary nomination process.
California voters have a unique stake in shaping the national discourse and the selection of presidential nominees. 19.4 million Californians are registered to vote, far exceeding every other state in the nation.
“With the Prime Time Primary, candidates for both parties will have to spend more time in California, and our voters will shape the national debate. SB 568 will ensure the most populous and diverse state’s voice is heard,” Senator Lara said.
“A state as populous and diverse as California should not be an afterthought,” Secretary of State Padilla said. “Moving up the California primary makes sense and will give California voters a more significant role. By holding our primary earlier, we will ensure that issues important to Californians are prioritized by presidential candidates from all political parties,” Padilla added.
In 2008, California moved up its Presidential Primary to February resulting in the highest voter turnout for a primary election 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 elections to boost voter engagement in statewide and legislative races that fall during a presidential election year.