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Pennsylvania’s 2024 primary election date: Lawmakers want to move it, but officials are wary

by Sarah Anne Hughes of Spotlight PA |

A voting sign sits outside the Allentown Public Library in Pennsylvania on Nov. 8, 2022.
Matt Smith / For Spotlight PA

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Update, Oct. 13: Pennsylvania’s 2024 presidential primary date unlikely to change due to legislative impasse

Original post

HARRISBURG — Pennsylvania lawmakers are weighing whether to move the date of the state’s 2024 primary.

The state Senate has passed a bill that would move the election from April 23, 2024, to March 19, while the state House has passed its own legislation that would move the date to April 2.

Here’s what you need to know about Pennsylvania’s primary, the arguments in support or moving it, and the arguments against:

Last updated 3 p.m., Oct. 5.

When is Pennsylvania’s 2024 primary?

As of Oct. 2, 2023, Pennsylvania’s primary is scheduled for April 23, 2024.

Why do some lawmakers want to move the date of the primary?

The current date conflicts with Passover, a holiday during which some Jews avoid driving, writing, and other activities, as they do on the Sabbath.

Is there a political benefit to moving Pennsylvania’s primary?

Some lawmakers argue that moving Pennsylvania’s primary to an earlier date would give the state more influence in the presidential election. The commonwealth’s primary is currently one of the last to be held in the U.S.

“By the time Pennsylvanians have the opportunity to select candidates for the general election, many potentially good candidates have already exited the race due to results in earlier primary states,” state Senate President Pro Tempore Kim Ward (R., Westmoreland) said in a statement.

What are the arguments against moving the primary?

The county officials who run elections and other voting experts have major logistical concerns about moving the 2024 primary so late in the year.

In a letter to legislative leaders obtained by Votebeat’s Carter Walker, the Election Law Advisory Board — a bipartisan panel that makes suggestions about how to improve the state’s voting rules — said that if the primary date is to be changed, it should be done at least a year in advance.

“In many instances, contracts to receive polling places are made a year in advance,” the board’s members — including lawmakers and county commissioners — wrote. “Clerks, inspectors, and volunteers have already been recruited and planned their schedules around the anticipated primary date.”

What are the proposed new dates for Pennsylvania’s 2024 primary?

The GOP-controlled state Senate recently passed a bill 45-2 that would move the primary date to March 19, 2024. (Three lawmakers in the 50-member chamber did not vote).

The Democratic-controlled state House, meanwhile, passed its own bill along party lines that would move the date to April 2, 2024.

What happens next?

That’s unclear.

The state House’s April 2 bill has been sent to the state Senate for consideration. Republican leaders in that chamber have yet to comment on whether they will bring it up for a vote.

It’s also possible that March 19 could once again be on the table in new or amended legislation.

Gov. Josh Shapiro, a Democrat, supports moving the primary but hasn’t publicly backed a specific date.

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