New Hampshire's place in the primary election season got additional protection in an overwhelming vote by the Republican National Committee on Friday, according to national Committeeman Steve Duprey of Concord.
Duprey said Saturday that the 153-9 vote effectively shortens the GOP's primary season to four months and permits just four states - New Hampshire, Iowa, South Carolina and Nevada - to hold a primary or caucus in February 2016.
Duprey said the rule change was deemed necessary after the 2012 primary season, in which Florida broke party rules and held an early primary, forcing other states to move up their primaries to historically early dates.
New Hamsphire, which historically has held the nation's first primary election, held its primary on Jan. 10, 2012, though Secretary of State William Gardner, who selects the primary date, had hinted he could set a date as early as in December.
In 2016, any state that tries to jump the calendar would be "punished" by losing all but nine of its delegates, Duprey said. Florida, for example, has 90 delegates, meaning its place of importance in the primary season would be diminished by 90 percent.
"It's like a death sentence in politics," Duprey said.
He said the calendar requires states to hold proportional elections after March 1, so the primary season isn't swamped by several large states effectively deciding the election on a single night, and be finished by the end of May.
This way, he said, "the voters aren't subjected to 10 months" of primary elections.
Duprey said he, national Committeewoman Juliana Bergeron and Party Chairman Jennifer Horn each voted for the rules change.