The PA Presidential Primary Dispute

By Drew Crusciel, Staff Writer

Photo courtesy of

The General Pennsylvania Presidential primary must take place on the fourth Tuesday of April, according to the Pennsylvania Election Code.[1] So what happens when that date falls on a holiday? That is the problem that Pennsylvania’s Congress is currently grappling with, as the fourth Tuesday of April 2024 will fall on the Jewish holiday of Passover.[2]  Both the state House of Representatives and the state Senate have introduced bills that would move the date of the Presidential primary up by several weeks.[3] The House bill would move the election to April 2nd, 2024, while the Senate bill would move it to March 19th, 2024.[4]

Although these two bills seemingly have the same effect of simply moving the primary so as not to fall on Passover, the difference of how far forward the election is moved could have an effect on the influence Pennsylvania has on the Presidential primaries as a whole.[5] The thought is that by the time PA has its primary, which is one of the latest in the country, the state’s elections do not have as much of a say in deciding presidential nominees as states with earlier elections.[6]

Those against moving the primary argue that the time until the election is too short to implement this change.[7] With the election less than six months away as of October 2023, poll workers and locations would have significantly less time to organize than usual – a year or more of advance notice is typical.[8] Counties, schools, and elections officials would be impacted by the moving of the primary, as many have already begun to plan for the original date of April 23rd.[9] Opponents of the move also argue that Jewish citizens planning to observe Passover can simply vote early by mail.[10]

Additionally, there are political differences between the two versions of the bill.[11] Democrats control the state House of Representatives while Republicans control the Senate.[12] The differences in the bills they have proposed follow party lines and party politics.[13] The Republican-written Senate bill includes strengthening voter ID laws, specifically by requiring voters to show their ID every time they vote, rather than the current model of only needing to show ID the first time a person votes at a specific polling place.[14] In the House bill, a battle of amendments is occurring, with Republican representatives suggesting amendments copying the voter ID expansions in the Senate bill, and Democratic representatives presenting alternative amendments that would bolster pre-canvassing and mail ballot processing, and even suggesting that voters who cast a mail ballot with a disqualifying error would be contacted by election officials so they could resubmit a proper ballot.[15]

The latest version of the Senate bill is being reconsidered after failing in the House due to adopting too many election reform amendments.[16] Meanwhile, no agreement on amendments could be made about the House bill – a stripped down version passed on party lines on October 5th, 2023.[17] This version of the bill does not incorporate any of the proposed amendments; it only amends the Pennsylvania Election Code so the General Pennsylvania Presidential primary must take place on the first rather than the fourth Tuesday of April.[18] This bill will now go to the state Senate for consideration; the Senate returned to session on October 16th, 2023.[19]

[1] 2023&sessIn d=0&billBody=H&billTyp=B&billNbr=1634&pn=1918. 


[3] Id.

[4] Id.




[8] Id.

[9] Id.





[14] Id.

[15] Id.


[17] Id.

[18] 2023&sessIn d=0&billBody=H&billTyp=B&billNbr=1634&pn=1918.


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