SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Democrats say moving the state’s presidential primaries up three months will make the state as influential as Iowa and New Hampshire when it comes to picking our next president, but Republicans aren’t buying it.

The 2016 election saw the highest statewide voter registration and participation in a long time.

“That was the first election I was involved in,” said Ben Read of Sacramento.

But Ben says by the time he cast his vote on June 7, the nominees were all but crowned.

“It seemed like it was already leading toward Hillary Clinton,” he said.

Now, state Democrats say 2020 may finally be the year that California counts.

California’s top election official is pushing to move California’s presidential and gubernatorial primary contest from June to the third Tuesday in March, making California third in line.

“It ought to be Iowa, New Hampshire, California,” said Secretary of State Alex Padilla.

Padilla calls it “prime time,” and says a permanent change to our primary would increase voter turnout.

“In years past, when California has moved its presidential primary up. We’ve seen that play out in the ballot box — more voters participate, more candidates are here campaigning,” he said.

If a March primary worked so well from 1996 to 2004, why didn’t California keep it? It was too expensive.

It was too expensive.

But Padilla says, it’s different this time.

“We’re moving everything up together and so there’s no added cost,” he said.

But for Republicans, the real bottom line is it won’t work.

“Other states do it too. It becomes a big rush. It’s almost like lemmings rushing over a cliff, said Assemblyman Matthew Harper (R-Huntington Beach).

He says a later primary makes us more influential during decision time.

“California becomes the tie-breaker, and that almost happened between Donald Trump and Ted Cruz,” he said.

Cruz dropped out of the presidential race a full month before California’s June 7 primary after losing in Indiana.

“California is leading the country in a lot of decisions, so I think it should be like in our elections as well,” said Read.

If the bill makes it out of the Assembly and is signed by the governor, it would take effect during the 2020 presidential primary.