Gov. Jerry Brown has signed a bill moving California’s presidential primary election from June to March to allow for more political influence, according to state legislators who proposed The Prime Time Primary Act.
“The Prime Time Primary puts California voters in the front seat in choosing our next president and will change our elections for the better,” stated Senator Ricardo Lara, who represents parts of Long Beach and co-authored the bill. “We have a responsibility to drive a different agenda at the national level and promote inclusion and consensus not the politics of division.”
Brown announced Wednesday that he had signed the bill, moving the statewide primary to the first Tuesday in March for presidential and non-presidential election years.
Currently, the state primary is held in June, at the tail end of the presidential primary schedule, which legislators state “dilutes California’s impact and influence in the Presidential Primary nomination process.” Residents of the District of Columbia were the only voters to cast ballots for the primary election after California last year.
“The Golden State will no longer be relegated to last place in the presidential nominating process,” Secretary of State Padilla said in a statement. “California’s primary will officially be in prime time. Candidates will not be able to ignore the largest, most diverse state in the nation as they seek our country’s highest office. California has been a leader time and time again on the most important issues facing our country—including immigration, education, and the environment. The Prime Time Primary Act will help ensure that issues important to Californians are prioritized by presidential candidates from all political parties.”
There are 19.4 million Californians registered to vote, far exceeding every other state in the country, according to Lara’s office.
Assembly Speaker pro Tem Kevin Mullin, who was the bill’s principal co-author, said the bill would give Californians a more powerful voice in the presidential primary elections.
“Given California is the sixth largest economy in the world, that one out of every eight U.S. voters lives in California, and that we have one of largest and most diverse populations in America, it is only right that our primary election date makes “California Count” when choosing our presidential candidates," Mullin stated.
California moved up its presidential primary to February in 2008, resulting in the highest voter turnout for a primary election since 1980, according to Lara’s office.
Supporters of the bill said its goal is to put the state’s presidential primary election in the top tier of states after Iowa and New Hampshire.
The bill will also consolidate state and primary votes and move up the primary election to march in non-presidential years to boost voter engagement, reduce costs for local elections and limit voter confusion, state legislators said.