Pennsylvania House OKs bill to move 2024 primary election up by 1 week in protracted fight over date
Pennsylvania's House of Representatives on Wednesday passed another bill to give an earlier date for its 2024 presidential primary, an effort that has become drawn out and politically charged in a battleground state still weathering former President Donald Trump's baseless claims about a stolen 2020 election.
The bill would move up the date by one week, from April 23 to April 16, and passed with a slim margin of 104-99. However, it faces an uncertain future.
The state Senate's Republican majority has insisted that the date be moved up by five weeks to March 19, and Senate Majority Leader Joe Pittman, R-Indiana, reiterated that Wednesday, calling the House bill "too little, too late."
Democratic Gov. Josh Shapiro’s administration this week recommended that lawmakers move it to April 9 as the date that “presents the fewest conflicts among potential primary dates.”
Meanwhile, counties have warned for two weeks that they don't have enough time to handle the tasks associated with moving next year’s primary election. Further, they said that moving the primary election date at this point puts undue pressure on election staff and raises the risk of challenges if the election isn’t run perfectly.
Initially, lawmakers were motivated to change the date to avoid a conflict with the Jewish holiday of Passover. Senate Republicans then proposed moving it to March 19, saying that would also make the late primary state more competitive in 2024's presidential primaries.
However, critics say a five-week shift makes it difficult for counties to change plans and harder for primary challengers to campaign in 2024's election contests. Plus, critics say, presidential nominees will be all but settled by March 19, anyway.
The House earlier this month countered with a proposal to move the date to April 2, two days after Easter. But Senate Republicans echoed the concerns of county election officials who say the nexus with Easter will make it difficult to get voting machines and election materials into churches that also serve as polling places.