Pa. legislators look to move 2024 primary for Passover
The 2024 primary is eight months away, but both Republican and Democratic politicians are looking to move the date a few weeks earlier.
As it stands, the primary is to be held April 23. The Jewish holiday of Passover begins the night prior and, per Jewish tradition, observant worshippers are to abstain from work during the first two and last two days. This work includes voting.
“It’s an important holiday, and it’s a holiday where many individuals will be going to services and not working, and certainly voting would be an activity which they would prefer not to do on an important holiday,” said Sen. Judy Schwank from Berks County.
Jewish people would be able to vote using an absentee ballot, but it may not be fair that a specific group of people has to vote a certain way, Schwank said.
“It doesn’t seem equitable to tell, you know, a certain population, you vote this way because we can’t accommodate you to vote in person,” Schwank said.
Schwank is co-chair of the recently formed Jewish Legislative Caucus, which works to add Jewish perspectives into legislation.
Both the state House and Senate have legislation in committee that would move the 2024 date up. The bills aim to move the primary to the third Tuesday in April as opposed to the fourth Tuesday.
The Senate State Government Committee will be amending the Senate bill to change the date to April 2, Schwank said.
Changing the date has bipartisan support, Schwank said.
Gov. Josh Shapiro also supports changing it, said his press secretary Manuel Bonder.
Secretary of State Al Schmidt supports it too, according to a letter he wrote to Senate President Pro Tempore Kim Ward of Westmoreland County.
“While I certainly support making this change, as a longtime election administrator, I strongly urge that any legislation moving the date of the primary be passed by the General Assembly as soon as possible,” Schmidt wrote.
The Senate will need to see how changing the date will affect the electoral process, Senate Majority Leader Joe Pittman of Indiana County said.
“Before any changes take place, we must have a clear understanding of the impact this change would have on other election-related deadlines, which are part of the process,” Pittman said.
The House is open to changing the primary date, said Elizabeth Rementer, press secretary for House Majority Leader Matt Bradford of Montgomery County.
“As the past few presidential election cycles have shown, Pennsylvania is a competitive state with a large, diverse population. Moving up the presidential primary update would give Pennsylvania voters a stronger voice in determining presidential nominees,” Rementer said.
The Senate returns on Sept. 18 and the House returns on Sept. 25.