Rokita Calls for Sweeping Reforms to the Presidential Nominating Process

Contact: Jen Fanger


National Association of Secretaries of State plan would rotate regional primaries starting in 2012

(Indianapolis, IN)-Concerned by the number of states rushing to move up their 2008 Presidential Primary dates, Indiana Secretary of State Todd Rokita and other secretaries of state from around the nation are calling for adoption of a reform plan for rotating regional primaries.

"While our immediate focus in Indiana is certainly on the 2007 Municipal Elections, we cannot ignore the national attention already focused on the 2008 Presidential Primary," said Rokita. "Presidential campaigns have both a significant civic and economic impact on states - benefits we miss in Indiana by holding a static May Primary."

In early February, Rokita and his counterparts from 39 states met in Washington, DC as part of the annual winter meeting of the National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS), of which Rokita is president-elect. The group reviewed primary dates for the 2008 nominating cycle and discussed ways to get the states and national parties to agree to changes.

"The nominating calendar is becoming increasingly frontloaded as states race to compete with Super Tuesday," said Rokita. "A rotating regional primary system would provide Hoosier voters with increased electoral significance, and it would force candidates to come to Indiana to campaign."

NASS is working to generate support for its Regional Rotating Presidential Primaries Plan. The proposal divides the country into four geographic areas-Eastern, Southern, Midwestern and Western-and rotates each region to vote first beginning in March. The other regions would hold their primary elections in April, May and June. A different part of the country would vote first every sixteen years. New Hampshire and Iowa would retain their early status to allow under-funded and less widely known candidates to compete through retail politics rather than the costly media-driven campaigns required in larger states.

The Carter-Baker Commission on Federal Election Reform, co-chaired by former President Jimmy Carter and former Secretary of State James A. Baker III, endorsed the NASS proposal in its September 2005 report.

To date, at least seventeen states are considering moving up the date of their presidential nominating contests compared to when they held them in 2004.