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Democrats plan major shake-up to voting rules before 2024 election

FILE – The Democratic National Committee headquarters in Washington is seen, June 14, 2016. On Saturday, July 30, 2022, the Democratic Party delayed a decision on potentially reordering its primary calendar for the 2024 presidential election until after November’s midterm elections. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File) Alex Brandon/AP

Democrats plan major shake-up to voting rules before 2024 election

Cami Mondeaux

November 29, 01:17 PM November 29, 01:17 PM

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The Democratic National Committee will vote on a flurry of voting rules ahead of the 2024 elections this week, with party leaders set to consider changes to the presidential primary calendar that could boot Iowa from its coveted first-in-the-nation voting slot.

Democrats are set to meet this week to decide on their presidential primary calendar, with several state leaders elbowing one another to claim early-state status. However, doing so may be easier said than done as it remains unclear how the DNC will organize the party’s primary calendar — and President Joe Biden, who holds outsize influence over the committee’s decision, has remained silent on the issue.

BOTH PARTIES VOW TO DEFEND NEW HAMPSHIRE’S ‘FIRST IN THE NATION’ VOTING STATUS

Every four years, the DNC’s Rules and Bylaws Committee formulates the rule that sets the Democratic Party’s presidential nominating calendar, specifying which state’s primary or caucus is granted “early” status and in which order these early states vote. The previous primary calendar began with Iowa’s caucus one week before New Hampshire’s primary, followed by Nevada and then South Carolina.

However, Democrats decided to scrap that calendar earlier this year, opening the process for all states to apply to be early contenders. That decision had been on the Democrats’ minds for years, but the conversation received renewed attention after the 2020 caucuses in Iowa were crippled by technological troubles, delaying the vote count for several days.

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With the midterm cycle barely in the rearview mirror, some states are pointing to Democratic gains in their elections as evidence they should be bumped up in the calendar. Among these are Michigan and Minnesota, which are both vying to replace Iowa to represent the Midwestern region in the early-state lineup. Both states showed Democratic strength in the midterm elections, with the party seizing control of both state legislative chambers and reelecting their Democratic governors.

Although it’s unclear which state may take over, Democrats are reportedly poised to boot Iowa from its coveted first-in-the-nation spot — and maybe from the early voting lineup altogether.

“I don’t think there’s any way Iowa stays, and there’s no reason for Iowa to stay,” one Democrat familiar with the process of the DNC’s Rules and Bylaws Committee, the group reordering the calendar, told Politico. “From an electoral standpoint, we’ve lost Iowa completely.”

Meanwhile, Nevada is vying to replace New Hampshire as the nation’s first primary despite objections from Gov. Chris Sununu (R-NH), who argues the Democrats are wasting their time.

“Nevada wants to go first? Can we all have a good laugh at that? They’re still counting fricking votes. This isn’t something — ‘I get it because I want it,’ like a petulant child. You have to earn it with high voter turnout, transparency, results, quick access to winners, and when you need to do a recount — we did four recounts yesterday — boom, done,” Sununu told the Washington Post one week after the midterm elections.

Sununu also pointed to New Hampshire law that mandates the secretary of state schedule the primary elections at least seven days before any other state — making it unclear how Democrats would respond. Democratic candidates in New Hampshire would then be faced with the decision to ignore their state rules or face punishment from party leaders.

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However, Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) has pushed heavily for Nevada to take over the first primary slot, arguing the state’s battleground status makes it a key investment for Democrats.

“Nevada is a state that really — that wants people to vote, protects the right for people to vote,” Cortez Masto told MSNBC. “And remember, Nevada is beautifully diverse. I think it’s a microcosm of the rest of the country. If you’re a presidential candidate and you can win in Nevada, you have a message that resonates across the country.”

The DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee is set to meet on Thursday and hold a vote to finalize its calendar proposal by Saturday, according to officials. The proposal will then go before the entire DNC in either January or February for a final vote.

The Republican National Committee already voted to reaffirm its presidential primary calendar earlier this year, keeping its current lineup of Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada.

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