After Alabama passed its bill moving primaries up to March 1st last week, joining Arkansas and four other Southern states, the “SEC Primary,” appears to be ready to make waves during the 2016 presidential race. The Yellowhammer State will join Arkansas, Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia to hold its presidential primary election on March 1st as soon as Governor Robert Bentley (R-AL) signs the bill into law. Electoral heavy hitter Florida will also have its primary in March, waiting until two weeks after its neighbors for March 15th. The SEC Primary, championed by Alabama’s Secretary of State John Merrill, is an effort to maneuver Alabama into a place of relevance in the nominating process.
In most presidential election years through the 2004 cycle, Alabama held its presidential primaries in June, often long after voters in other states had essentially decided the outcome of the races. So lawmakers passed a bill that moved Alabama’s presidential primaries up to the first Tuesday in February.
But in an effort to condense the primary campaign calendar, both national party committees passed a rule cutting in half the number of delegates a state could send to the party convention if they held their primary before the first Tuesday in March.