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Democrats move first presidential primary to South Carolina to prioritize minority voters

The decision follows President Joe Biden's recommendation to the DNC in December to "update" the primary process. 

Published: February 5, 2023 8:38am

Updated: February 5, 2023 4:56pm

South Carolina will be the first state to hold a 2024 Democratic presidential primary after the Democratic National Committee voted to have the battleground Southern state hold its primary first in order to prioritize black voters.

The DNC's decision Saturday also dethroned Iowa and New Hampshire from their traditional positions as the first states to host the presidential contests.

South Carolina, which is traditionally one of the first four states to hold a primary, will now host its 2024 Democratic presidential primary on Feb. 3.

"This calendar does what is long overdue," DNC Chairman Jaime Harrison said, NBC News reported. "It puts Black voters at the front of the process in South Carolina. It keeps Nevada, where Latinos have been building power... And it adds Michigan, the heartland, where unions built the middle class of this nation. And Georgia, the forefront of the new South."

New Hampshire and Nevada will host their primaries on Feb. 6, 2024, followed by Georgia on Feb. 13 and Michigan on Feb. 27.

The decision follows President Joe Biden's recommendation to the DNC in December to "update" the primary process. 

The Iowa and New Hampshire Democratic Parties protested the national party's decision.

"Democrats cannot forget about entire groups of voters in the heart of the Midwest without doing significant damage to the party for a generation," Iowa Democratic Party Chair Ross Wilburn said after the DNC's announcement.

Iowa, which normally holds its presidential caucus before any other state holds a primary or caucus, struggled in 2020 after caucus results were delayed for days. 

"New Hampshire law requires us to hold the first-in-the-nation primary, and state Republican leaders have made clear that will not change," New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair Ray Buckley said. "We remain extremely concerned about the effects this calendar will have on our purple, crucial battleground state."

New Hampshire traditionally hosts its primary days after the Iowa caucus, making it the first state in the nation to host a traditional primary. 

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