As the FEC continues to update the 2012 primary calendar, four states now have presidential primaries scheduled in January; the first is a full 10 months before the general election.

States jockeying for an “early” primary date is nothing new, but four January elections have many questioning the free for all scheduling scramble. Although it looks like the danger of a December primary has passed, the possibility is a good reason to consider a longstanding proposal from the National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS).

NASS adopted the Rotating Regional Presidential Primaries Plan back in 1999 to reign in the front-loaded nominating calendar by establishing a system that gives every state the chance to play a role.

The plan would group party primaries (or caucuses) by region and a lottery would determine which region would begin the sequence (during the next presidential election the first region would move to the end of the sequence). Primaries in each state of a given region would be scheduled on or soon after the first Tuesday in March, April, May, or June of presidential election years, although Iowa and New Hampshire would retain their leading positions in the presidential selection process.

The regional groupings under the NASS plan are:

  1. East: Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, West Virginia and the District of Columbia.
  2. South: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. 
  3. Midwest: Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin. 
  4. West: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, Wyoming and Guam.

Of course, this is just one proposal. What do you think of the plan and how else could we improve the primary scheduling system?

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