The rulemaking arm of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) voted on Friday to make South Carolina the first voting state in the party’s presidential nominating calendar, The Associated Press reported.
South Carolina will replace the starting-gun spot held for decades by Iowa after that state’s caucus suffered technical problems in 2020.
The shift would also fulfill long-standing requests from within the party to have a more diverse state in the leadoff position.
New Hampshire and Nevada would vote the week after South Carolina in the new calendar, followed by Georgia and Michigan. The full DNC will vote on the calendar early next year, according to USA Today.
The vote comes after President Biden endorsed the shake-up to the nominating calendar on Thursday. In a letter to the DNC, Biden emphasized that the leadoff state — which tends to have an outsized influence on which candidates remain in the race — should reflect the diversity of the country.
“Too often over the past fifty years, candidates have dropped out or had their candidacies marginalized by the press and pundits because of poor performances in small states early in the process before voters of color cast a vote,” Biden said.
He also urged the DNC to move away from caucuses in general, calling them “inherently anti-participatory.”
Biden’s own 2020 campaign for the White House kicked into a higher gear after he won the South Carolina primary, following disappointing finishes in Iowa and New Hampshire.
Even as Friday’s vote brings Democrats one step closer to giving South Carolina the first-in-the-nation position, Iowa and New Hampshire have argued that their states mandate they go first. The New Hampshire Democratic Party, whose state typically holds the second spot in the calendar, hit back at the proposal on Wednesday.
“The DNC did not give New Hampshire the first-in-the-nation primary and it is not theirs to take away,” said Chairman Ray Buckley.
—Updated at 4:46 p.m.