Get those 2016 calendars out. The first votes that will be cast for the Democratic presidential nomination will take place in February 2016, Democrats decided Friday at a Democratic National Committee rules and bylaws committee meeting.
The proposed calendar has the traditional early states first. The Iowa caucuses will take place on February 1, the New Hampshire primary will be on February 9, the Nevada caucuses will be held February 20 and the South Carolina primary will be Feb. 27. All other states will have to wait until March 1 and can hold their primary or caucus through June 14th.
The proposed calendar still needs to be ratified at the August meeting in Atlanta of the full DNC, but it's likely these dates will hold. There was little discussion of the dates among the committee members today and the dates were approved by a unanimous voice vote.
The Republican National Committee has also provided "carve outs" in February 2016 for the traditional early states, but they have not specified dates yet. These dates are being decided today to prevent states who want more influence in the nominating contest from jumping earlier in the calendar, forcing the traditional "early states" to move even earlier, as has happened in past presidential election years.
The DNC's rules and bylaws committee is meeting Friday in Washington to discuss several party rules and dates around the nominating contests. Besides detailing the dates, the committee also discussed expanding accesses to caucuses.
The DNC committee member from Iowa, Scott Brennan said they were researching and considering expanding access to the Iowa caucuses-which kicks off the presidential nominating process-to Iowans serving overseas, those living in nursing homes or in hospitals, as well as shift workers.
The members agreed to keep discussing and researching the issue in the hopes of possibly expanding access not only in Iowa, but to other caucus states as well.