By a 104-99 vote, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives approved an amended Senate Bill 224 that moves the 2024 state presidential primary to April 16.
Despite pleas from the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania (CCAP) that election officials would not be able to administer the election properly at this late date, the Democrat-controlled chamber passed the measure with two GOP votes – Rep. Aaron Kaufer (R-Luzerne) and Rep. Thomas Mehaffie (R-Dauphin).
“Given the current timing, there would have been immense pressure on counties to handle the tasks associated with moving the 2024 Presidential Primary, much less contemplate adding those tasks as we prepare to administer the November election,” John Buffon, a spokesperson for CCAP, said. “Counties agree it is too late to move the 2024 Primary at this point, and we look forward to working with the General Assembly and Governor to address this issue ahead of 2028.”
The amended bill also included some flexibility for school districts to use the fourth Tuesday of April instead of the date of the General primary for setting budgets.
Senate Majority Leader Joe Pittman (R-Armstrong/Indiana/ Jefferson/Westmoreland) expressed his disappointment after hearing the House action.
“Confusion and delay. These are the only words I can find in describing the humble House Democrat majority’s failure to adequately address this issue,” said Pittman. “Their continued halfhearted efforts to change the primary date for 2024 are too little, too late. This latest attempt to add school property tax language into Senate Bill 224, while moving the primary date to April 16 is unacceptable to the Senate Republican majority.
“I again affirm the conversation on moving the 2024 primary date has come to an end in the state Senate. Our Republican majority worked in timely fashion, in good faith and in a bipartisan manner with Senate Democrats to move the primary date to March 19, respecting all major holidays. We regret the House did not do the same. The ongoing focus of House Democrats on the performative instead of substantive does a great disservice to the people of Pennsylvania.”
State Rep. Arvind Venkat (D-Allegheny) expressed concern about the precedent of moving the election due to a conflict with a religious holiday, noting that April 9 and 16 fall on Hindu celebrations.
“I do not expect as a member of the Hindu faith that our state government will move elections based on a conflict with a religious festival,” Venkat says. Instead, he supports permanently moving up the primary so Pennsylvania has more of a say in presidential primaries.