The California State Senate voted overwhelmingly Thursday to approve SB 568, the Prime Time Primary bill, moving up California’s presidential primary to the third Tuesday of March.
Introduced by Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) and supported by Secretary of State Alex Padilla, the bill cleared the Senate with bipartisan support, passing 32-6, with two abstentions.
“California is first in the nation on clean energy, on farming, on job growth, and in the diversity of our people,” Lara said in a statement. “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."
In 2008, California held its presidential primary in February and had its highest voter turnout since 1980.
"The largest and most diverse state in the nation should not be an afterthought,” Padilla said in a statement. “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."
SB 568 calls for the primary to be held the third Tuesday of March, but allows for the governor to move it up if other states make their primaries earlier.
The bill now heads to the Assembly, where Assembly Speaker pro Tempore Kevin Mullin has introduced similar legislation.