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Pennsylvania Mulls New Presidential Primary Date, Again

As Pennsylvania mulls another decision to move its presidential primary away from Passover and April, what would be gained and/or lost with such a change is up for debate.

The General Assembly is considering two bills – HB 1634 and SB 224.

House Bill 1634 would move the presidential primary from the fourth Tuesday in April to the third Tuesday in March. For 2024, that would mean a shift to March 19, rather than April 23.

The bill’s counterpart in the Senate – Senate Bill 224 – also calls for the same date change. The Senate’s State Government Committee advanced the bill forward to the entire chamber on Wednesday.

State lawmakers have the additional incentive to reschedule the primary as in 2024, it falls on the first day of the Jewish holiday of Passover. Those who are observant typically avoid the same activities they avoid on the Sabbath, such as driving, working or using electricity and could abstain from voting.

Gov. Josh Shapiro, who is Jewish, has said he supports changing the date, as well.

The General Assembly would be wise to look at the lunar calendar, which the Jewish calendar is based upon. While the date changes each year, Passover always falls on a full moon in the spring.

In 2028, Passover begins at sundown on Monday, April 10 and concludes on Tuesday, April 18, while in 2032, the holiday starts on Friday, March 26 and concludes on Saturday, April 3.

Many state lawmakers oppose moving Pennsylvania’s primary date to March 19, because that would force them and other candidates to start gathering signatures on their re-election petitions the week before Christmas.

Amendments are in the works to consider an alternative such as the fourth Tuesday in March (March 26) or the first Tuesday in April (April 2).

A move to an earlier date would not achieve one of lawmakers’ stated goals to have Pennsylvania have more of a voice in the presidential primary race.

The Keystone State would leap-frog Louisiana and Wisconsin only with a move to March 19, while leaving Delaware and Rhode Island on April 23. And a switch to April 2 means conducting the PA primary on the same date as Wisconsin.

Below is a list of other state presidential primaries for 2024.

January

15 – Iowa (GOP caucus)

February 

3 – South Carolina (Democrats)

6 – Nevada, New York

24 – South Carolina (Republicans)

27 – Michigan

March

5 (Super Tuesday) – Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia

12 – Georgia, Idaho, Mississippi, New Hampshire *, Washington

19 – Arizona, Florida, Illinois, Kansas, Ohio

23 – Louisiana

April 

2 – Wisconsin

23 (Passover) – Delaware, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island

30 – Connecticut

May

7 – Indiana

14 – Maryland, Nebraska, West Virginia

21 – Kentucky, Oregon

June

4 – Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, South Dakota

* The secretary of state, however, is authorized to pick a date seven days earlier than any other state’s presidential primary.

Source: National Conference of State Legislatures

story updated to reflect SB 224 advancing to entire state Senate





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