Assembly leader files bill to transition Nevada to a primary, become first presidential nominating state
Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson has introduced legislation that would not only transition Nevada away from a caucus to a primary for the 2024 presidential cycle, but also leapfrog New Hampshire and Iowa to become the first nominating state in the country.
The bill, AB126, was introduced on Monday in the Assembly, and officially kickstarts the effort by state Democrats to move Nevada up the nominating process ahead of the next presidential election cycle — a move still subject to approval by Democratic National Committee but could mark a major shift in how the country decides presidential nominees.
Speaking to reporters on Monday, Frierson said he hasn’t yet contacted election officials in other early states but said that he planned to have those conversations in the near future and that Nevada has a “convincing case” of why it should be first.
“Nevada has been a better barometer of where the country is going,” he said. “And I think with the diversity that we have here in Nevada, it gives candidates a better opportunity to make their case before a really diverse population.”
Moving Nevada to the top of the presidential nomination list would end decades of political tradition, but the idea of changing the nominating order of states has gained increased traction amid well-documented debacles during the Iowa caucus, as well as a growing consensus that the first two states on the primary calendar — Iowa and New Hampshire — don’t reflect the full diversity of the country.
It’s why Nevada Democrats, led by former U.S. Sen Harry Reid (who secured the state’s move to the third early state spot in 2008) have planned a push to move Nevada to the top of the nominating calendar — a move that requires both changes in law and sign-off from both major political parties.
Even though New Hampshire has enacted laws requiring that their nominating contests be automatically pushed up should any state try to jump the line, Frierson said he planned to have conversations with leaders in other states and “all of our partners” on how best for the nominating process to proceed.
“Other states have laws that dictate where they belong in the process,” he said. “And I think as times change, we as a party need to adapt as well.”
The bill itself generally lays out the form and function of how a presidential primary election would work, and largely mirrors provisions that currently govern the state’s existing summer primary election structure. It sets the presidential primary election date for Tuesday immediately preceding the last Tuesday in January (in 2024, that would be on Jan. 23).
The measure would also require at least 10 days of early voting, extending through the Friday before the election. It also copies over provisions allowing same-day registration that currently exist in law to allow apply to presidential primary elections.
It also includes provisions that would include a presidential primary election as an “affected election” and subject to the provisions of AB4, the near-universal mail balloting measure from the 2020 election
The bill would also require the state to pay for the costs of holding the primary election. Frierson said Monday that he didn’t have an estimate as to how much the election could cost the state, but said he planned to talk to local election officials to ensure that the process would be kept “broad as far as access goes, but manageable as far as cost goes.”