By Celine Castronuovo
Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) on Friday officially signed into law a bill that would make the Silver State the first in the nation to hold a presidential primary during a general election year.
The measure, which passed both chambers in the Nevada state legislature last month, would change Nevada’s contest from a caucus to a primary that will be held on the first Tuesday in February.
Despite Sisolak’s Friday signing, the bill will still need to gain the support of national political parties to take effect.
Should the parties not agree to the calendar changes, Nevada state parties could be at risk of losing delegates at presidential nomination conventions, The Associated Press noted Friday.
The official signing, though, could prompt Iowa and New Hampshire, which traditionally hold the first primary elections during a presidential election year, to move up their contests.
Nevada Democrats, including former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, have pushed to put Nevada into the first slot, citing in part problems with the Iowa caucuses, especially in 2020.
The 2020 Iowa caucus, which was described as a disaster by many, experienced delayed results due to issues with a new app the Iowa Democratic Party planned to use to report tallies.
Democrats have also argued that Nevada’s diversity more effectively represents the demographics of the U.S. as a whole, compared to Iowa and New Hampshire, whose populations are overwhelmingly White.
During Friday’s bill signing ceremony, Sisolak said, “This brings me great pride, as the diversity and culture found in the people in the great state of Nevada undoubtedly represent the demographical
composition of who we are as a nation.”
“It begins in Nevada,” he added, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. However, top Republicans in four early presidential nominating states this week issued a statement jointly opposing the push to hold the Nevada primary first, instead defending the importance of upholding
the “historical process” as it “has existed for many years,” the AP reported.
While the Democratic National Committee (DNC) has not specifically indicated if it would support the Nevada calendar change, DNC Chairman Jaime Harrison said in a statement Friday, “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.”
Sisolak on Friday also signed into law several other election bills, including one making the state’s use of expanded vote by mail measures during the coronavirus pandemic permanent, and another that establishes specific requirements for counting absentee ballots.
The governor pointed out that the bills come amid a trend in several GOP-led states of passing restrictions on voting and elections.
“Today in the great state of Nevada, we are so proud that we are sending a strong message that the Silver State is not only bucking the national trend of infringing on voter rights, but rather we’re doing everything we can to expand access to the polls while ensuring our elections are secure and fair,” he said, according to the Journal.
By Celine Castronuovo