California Assembly Passes Prime Time Primary Bill to Make California Count in Presidential Election

September 15, 2017

Senate Bill 568 will move primary to first Tuesday in March

SACRAMENTO, California – Today the California Assembly voted to approve the Prime Time Primary (Senate Bill 568), which will advance California’s presidential primary from one of the last in the nation to one of the first.

Senator Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) is author of SB 568, and principal co-author and Assembly Speaker Pro Tempore Kevin Mullin (D-San Mateo) presented the bill in the Assembly.

Secretary of State Alex Padilla is the sponsor of the Prime Time Primary.

SB 568 must be approved by the Senate on concurrence before it can go to Governor Brown.

The Prime Time Primary would move the statewide primary to the first Tuesday after the first Monday in March during a presidential election year. The California primary has traditionally been held in June, at the tail end of the primary schedule. Last year only the District of Columbia held a later election.

"Moving California's presidential primary to March from June means candidates in both parties can't treat immigration, climate change, criminal justice reform and investing in jobs and innovation like afterthoughts, as they did too often in 2016,” said Senator Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens). “The prime time primary will lift up the voices of Californians on issues where we are leading the nation if not the world."

“Voter empowerment and engagement has been and continues to be a cornerstone of my legislative agenda,” Assembly Speaker Pro Tempore Kevin Mullin said. “Voters tend to be more engaged in the process when there is a candidate or initiative they are passionate about.  Making California part of the early presidential primary process, gives voters a more prominent voice.   SB 568 will benefit all Californians regardless of party affiliation and make California count and provide our voters a prominent voice in the selection of our presidential candidates.” 

“Too often California is relegated to serving as a political ATM for presidential candidates. Moving up California’s primary will strengthen the voice of California voters in the presidential nominating process,” Secretary of State Alex Padilla said. “The Prime time Primary Act has received bipartisan support, and will help ensure that issues important to Californians are prioritized by presidential candidates from all political parties.”

SB 568 must be voted on by the Senate, where it previously passed 32-6 with bipartisan support, before going to Governor Brown.

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. Last year 10 states including Texas and Virginia held their primary on March 1, known as Super Tuesday.

Senate Bill 568 also consolidates the state and presidential primary votes and moves up the primary election to March in non-presidential years to boost voter engagement, reduce costs for local elections and limit voter confusion.