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Secretary of State

SOS > Media Center >  Press Releases > 2008 Press Releases > For Immediate Release: February 12, 2008 Rokita presides over NASS Conference

Contact: Jim Gavin
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Report Urges Adoption of Rotating Regional Presidential Primaries

(Washington, DC) -- As President of the National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS), Indiana Secretary of State Todd Rokita recently returned from leading the group's conference in Washington, DC where Rotating Regional Primaries was the hot topic in light of this year's presidential elections.

During the conference, NASS released a report of the NASS Subcommittee on Presidential Primaries entitled, “The Case for Regional Presidential Primaries in 2012 and Beyond”  which is now available online. This report urges adoption of a regional system for presidential primaries and was developed with input from leading academics and chief state election officials in more than 20 states.

"In 2005, the Commission on Federal Election Reform, co-chaired by former President Jimmy Carter and former Secretary of State James A. Baker, III, formally endorsed the Rotating Regional Primary plan," Rokita said. "Members of Congress, top political pundits, political scientists and newspaper editorial boards around the U.S. including the Washington Post and USA Today are in support as well."

The document was written for state and national political party representatives as well as other opinion leaders with the ability to bring about changes to the process for the next presidential election cycle. Kentucky Secretary of State Trey

Grayson, co-chair of the NASS Subcommittee on Presidential Primaries, stressed the need to call for action.

“If the system remains unchecked for 2012, the process will remain chaotic, unfair and subject to the decisions
of state leaders who can afford to ignore party rules and sanctions,” Grayson said. “It is time to stop the frontloading of

the presidential nominating calendar so that states are not pitted against each other in a quadrennial attempt to
land a prized early spot in the sequence of voting.”

The NASS plan would divide the country into geographical regions (East, South, Midwest and West) and spread out the primaries and caucuses over a four-month time period, beginning in March of each cycle. The voting order of the regions would then rotate every four years. The traditional “lead-off” contests in Iowa and New Hampshire would still come first, but only as a warm-up to give lesser-known, under-funded candidates the chance to establish themselves as genuine competitors in the larger, regional competitions that follow.

In addition to providing details and background on the NASS Rotating Regional Presidential Primaries Plan, the new report outlines the broad support that exists for the proposal, from political endorsements to major newspaper editorials. It also provides information on the 2008 nominating calendar and charts the frontloading phenomenon from 2000 to 2008. A special section details the impacts of frontloading on election administrators, many of whom were forced to carry out election preparations during the busy end-of-year holiday season.

“Although no system is perfect and without its flaws, we believe that regional primaries are the best way to choose our president,” said Iowa Secretary of State Michael Mauro, co-chair of the NASS Subcommittee on Presidential Primaries. “Election officials don’t want to live through another campaign cycle where we’re trying to get ready for caucuses and primaries while people are celebrating Thanksgiving and other big holidays. It’s just not rational.”

NASS members plan to send the report to national and state political party leaders. The RNC Standing Committee on Rules will meet this spring to consider adopting a modified version of the NASS plan, along with four alternative proposals. The DNC has also indicated that it will examine its nominating procedures.

For more information, download the report at http://www.nass.org/.

Founded in 1904, the National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS) is the oldest professional, non-partisan organization of public officials in the United States. Members include the 50 states, the District of Columbia and the territories of American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. For more information, visit www.nass.org.

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In the first photo (L-R):  Kosei Murota, First Secretary of Management and Coordination Section, Embassy of Japan, Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner, Indiana Secretary of State Todd Rokita, Florida Secretary of State Kurt Browning, and Oliver Liao of Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office.


In the second photo: Secretary Rokita addresses NASS Secretaries at the Indonesian Embassy in Washington, DC.