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California law moves up primary election date

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Jocelyn Arceo
Staff Writer

California Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill Sept. 27 that will move the primary elections from June to March in an attempt to claim more attention from presidential candidates.

The bill could give California a higher level of influence at the national level, and will be effective as of the 2020 election year.

Richard Gelm, professor of political science, said that because California’s primary has always been later than most other states the decision would usually have already been made up by the time voting came around.

“The goal to move it forward for any state is to maximize your influence,” said Gelm.

The issue in doing this is the fact that California is the most populous state in the nation, and that would mean advertising costs for each candidate would be huge, especially for the lesser known candidates, Gelm said.

Gelm said the potential benefit is all relative to what kind of voter a person may be.

“If a person is a Democrat who wants to unseat Donald Trump in 2020, there are several angles from which I would say that this is a positive for that person,” Gelm said. “If the Republican candidate would want to scare Donald Trump and hit him with a blow very early, California is the kind of place that can send shivers down the president’s spine.”

Some students at the University of La Verne agreed that moving the primaries up a couple months will do more harm than good, and are unclear as to how the voters will respond.

This may cause a drop in voting rates, a shorter time period for voters to get educated on their candidates and less decision time as well, according the few students interviewed.

“I feel like it might lower voting rates,” Gabriel Estrella, a freshman biology major, said.

Estrella said that the low voting rates would be attributed to possible confusion over the change in date.

“It will probably make less people vote if they don’t know about the change,” Heather White, sophomore biology major, said.

Along with lower voting rates, there is also the speculation over whether or not the change will be beneficial.

“I wonder if they’re moving up the primaries to have more educated voters or if it’s going to be used to just blindside them,” Jasmine Marchbanks-Owens, a graduate student majoring in social justice and higher education administration, said.

The opposition arguments in the Senate floor bill analyses said that a longer election cycle would result in a lower voter turnout. However, the arguments in support said that a later primary results in voter suppression. With the earlier date comes the primary’s increased influence, which motivates voters. In 2008, when California had their primary in February, the state saw the highest voter participation rate since 1980.

With the speculation that has followed the signing of the bill, California may face consequences not only from the voters, but from the federal government as well. The state was originally awarded extra delegates because its primary elections were held so late in the year, but there may be repercussions because of the change. The repercussions are unknown.

However, there is the added factor of candidates losing campaign time.

“It’s going to be harder on the campaign leaders,” Chavon Jackson, sophomore computer science major, said. “There will be no room for error.”

The next primary elections will now be held on March 3, 2020, for the state of California. Whether it’s a bad decision or a great one, people still have a responsibility to go out and vote.

If you are eligible to register as a voter but have not yet done so, you can do so at www.usa.gov/register-to-vote.

Jocelyn Arceo can be reached at jocelyn.arceo@laverne.edu.

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