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Blair County Says Not So Fast On Changing Primary Date

Blair County sign

Moving Pennsylvania’s presidential primary date for 2024 is up against the clock, but some officials say it is not worth the troubles it would create.

“I understand why the legislators want a more relevant date, but it’s a little problematic for the counties in general,” Blair County Commissioner Chair Bruce Erb.

The General Assembly will consider legislation that would move the 2024 presidential primary from April 23 to one of two dates in March – either March 19 or 26. Either date would move the primary away from Passover, which falls on April 23.

Blair County Director of Elections Sarah Seymour confirmed for Erb that if the primary date is earlier than April 23, that means the work associated with wrapping up the fall election will overlap with preparing for the spring primary.

Solicitor Nathan Karn, who advises the county’s elections office, also said the change will affect polling locations, particularly ones inside schools that have already set their calendars to accommodate the April 23 primary.

Both Karn and Seymour have met with school superintendents who asked for advance notice and efforts so they could cancel classes or take actions to maintain security in schools used as voting polls.

There are at least 10 schools in the county that the elections board utilizes.

“It would be a lot for us to go to the superintendents now and say kick your kids out of school for a day so we can have an election, because the Legislature decided six months out that we were going to hold an election earlier than what (the county) contracted with you for,” Karn said.

Karn acknowledged his frustration with state lawmakers for failing to address the matter before now and proposed that changes like this should be planned at least a year in advance.

“The issue isn’t whether they’re good changes or not,” Karn said. “The issue is trying to implement the changes with next-to-no notice.”

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