Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak signed a sweeping law Friday that moves its party presidential selection contest up to the first Tuesday in February in 2024 and changes it from a caucus to a primary.
“I am deeply grateful to the legislators, community advocates, and supporters who were instrumental in ensuring that Nevada continues to push forward and prioritize our access to voting,” Sisolak, a Democrat, tweeted.
Assembly Bill 126 puts Nevada’s new primary near the traditional dates for the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary, traditionally a third rail in presidential politics that has caused complications in past elections.
Nevada Democrats initially were even more aggressive. The bill’s first draft would have put the presidential primary date in the middle of January, but an amendment pushed that date back by two weeks.
For now, the Democratic National Committee is officially staying above the fray.
“We are going to continue to let the process play out, as it does every four years, and look forward to hearing the insight and recommendations from all interested parties on the 2020 reforms, and on the 2024 calendar at the appropriate time in the process,” chair Jaime Harrison said in a written statement released by the party Friday.
But momentum to change the 2024 calendar has been picking up, both because of the chaos around the 2020 Iowa caucuses and the growing belief from some Democrats that two states with predominately White populations should not be the first states to vote in the Democratic presidential primary.
And both Iowa and New Hampshire are sure to fight back against any planned move by Nevada.
“I remain confident New Hampshire will retain our first in the nation presidential primary,” New Hampshire Democratic Party chair Ray Buckley told CNN Friday.
“Iowa going first does not take away from other state’s abilities to hold primaries, it adds an important voice to the conversation. I believe Democratic candidates have a real opportunity in Iowa to connect with a diverse electorate that includes voters of color and rural working class Americans,” Iowa Democratic Party Chair Ross Wilburn said in a statement to CNN. “Iowa Democrats and Republicans don’t agree on much, but we do agree in keeping Iowa first in the nation. I have had conversations with Iowa GOP Chair Jeff Kaufmann and will continue to be in communication with him going forward.”
In addition to changing the nature and date of the contest, the new law requires each county to have 10 days of early voting ahead of the presidential primary. It is part of a raft of election reform laws Sisolak signed Friday, including measures that expand the number of ways a resident can register to vote and distribute mail-in ballots to voters without requiring them to request one.
The change from a caucus to primary has strong opposition from Republicans. A joint statement from the GOP leaders of Nevada, Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina said, “As the GOP leaders of the four carve out states, we want to make clear that we stand together in protecting the presidential nominating schedule as it has existed for many years. Our alliance is strong and we will continue to work together to preserve this historic process.”