Democrats shake up 2024 primary schedule after overwhelming vote in Philadelphia

Published: Feb. 4, 2023 at 3:20 PM EST

WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - The Democratic National Committee made big changes as for when Americans will vote in 2024. At a gathering in Philadelphia, they decided to shake up the electoral map for the next cycle in overwhelming fashion. By a voice vote, Democrats threw out decades of precedent, picking South Carolina to kick off voting in 2024.

“I think it really is transformative,” said Trav Robertson, chair of the South Carolina Democratic Party.

From voting first in the south, to first in the nation. Hundreds of DNC members rewarded South Carolina for its diversity and jumpstarting President Joe Biden’s 2020 primary campaign, which got off to a slow start.

“It is going to transform our state from a political perspective but also from an economic perspective,” said Robertson.

For 50 years, Iowa and New Hampshire occupied the top slots in the calendar. Per President Biden’s wishes, neither state will feature first in 2024, taking them out of their customary spotlight, redistributing the economic benefits of being first.

“We locked in these states for 20, 30 years into this process and of course our party changed. Our country changed,” said Ken Martin, a vice chair of the party and head of the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party.

Martin says it was a fair and transparent process. He adds every region will be represented in the early window, which is the primary season before March.

“This new calendar reflects, again, who our party is and where we’re going,” said Martin.

Iowa and New Hampshire state laws say they must vote first. With Republican-controlled legislatures unwilling to budge, Democrats say they cannot change their contest dates.

The DNC is giving New Hampshire the second primary slot alongside Nevada, but it requires paperwork showing compliance with the new rules and schedule. New Hampshire is yet to comply, but was given an extension until June 3 to do so.

“There’s no certainty in this calendar and it’s kind of embarrassing that we’d jump on board with a calendar that will not work,” said Scott Brennan, Iowa’s member on the DNC rules committee.

Brennan says Iowa and New Hampshire may still vote first in 2024, going against the DNC rules. Such a move would lead to delegates being stripped from the national convention next year.

“It is so unclear and yet we vote overwhelmingly in favor of something that creates no certainty,” said Brennan.

Given President Joe Biden is expected to seek reelection, the full effect of this new schedule on primaries will not become clear until 2028 at the earliest. That being said, some at the DNC say there is a chance this new schedule gets completely changed again ahead of 2028.