Published: Aug 23, 2012 12:18 PM EDT

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) - A Republican committee is backing stricter penalties for states that hold presidential primaries ahead of schedule.
    
Meeting ahead of next week's Republican National Convention in Tampa, the GOP's rules committee voted Wednesday to strip states that hold contests ahead of the last Tuesday in February to a minimum number of national convention delegates.
    
The penalty is aimed at avoiding primaries in early January, as in 2008 and 2012, when some states bucked party rules to grab the early campaign spotlight.
    
Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada remain exceptions, and can hold their contests earlier in February.
    
But under the new rules, violating states would be stripped of all but nine delegates. This year, Florida Republicans, who held their primary Jan. 30, were stripped of half of their 99 delegates.

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