In a show of defiance, New Hampshire’s Secretary of State announced that they will go ahead with the state’s first-in-the-nation presidential primary on February 9th, 2021, despite warnings from the Democratic National Committee (DNC) that they will not recognize the results of the contest.
The announcement marks a split between the New Hampshire government and the DNC, with the DNC favoring a process that will restrict the power of early-voting states to decide the nomination. The controversy emerged in mid-January when the DNC announced that it would not recognize the results from any contest held before the first Tuesday in March, a move that reduces the power of the four traditional early-voting states (Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada).
In response, New Hampshire’s Secretary of State Bill Gardner argued that the state has been holding the earliest primary since 1920 and that this tradition needs to be respected. He noted that other states have held early contests or caucuses over the years and that New Hampshire must remain a player in the process.
Though some other early-voting states have threatened to follow suit, New Hampshire is the first to go ahead and declare it will press on with its primary. However, the DNC has said that it will not count the votes in the Granite State, even if the primary is held as planned. This could complicate the contest, as the leading candidates will not know whether or not their votes will count until after the election is held.
In the end, the dispute over New Hampshire’s primary could lead to a constitutional clash over the power of the states to determine the timing of their contested elections. It remains to be seen how the conflict will be resolved and how it will impact the presidential race.