Our opinion: Quickly finalize primary date

State legislators appear to have reached a consensus that Pennsylvania, which long has been a major player in determining the winners of presidential elections, finally will become a player in the primary process that selects the nominees.

Next year’s primary election is scheduled for April 23, the fourth Tuesday of that month, long after the nominees likely will be determined due to the outcomes of earlier primaries in other states. That probably is more important on the Republican side given former President Donald Trump’s raft of legal issues and multiple challengers, even though all of them trail him badly in the polls. Democratic President Joe Biden has challengers, but they likely will prove to be nominal, especially late in the primary season.

Another major incentive to move the date is that it conflicts with the beginning of Passover.

A Senate committee finally approved a bill recently that would move up the date to make state voters relevant in the primary season. But, this being Pennsylvania, the date designated by the Republican-controlled Senate committee disagrees with the date favored in the Democratic-controlled House.

The Senate bill would move the date to March 19, the third Tuesday of that month. Meanwhile, a pending House bill would move the date to April 2.

In the vast universe of matters on which the House and Senate disagree – the new financial code bills supporting the state budget that passed the Senate probably won’t get past the House, for example – resolving the difference over the primary date should be relatively easy.

Timeliness is important because Pennsylvania’s Department of State and 67 county election offices need adequate lead time to set a calendar for candidates for many other offices that also will be on the ballot. Prospective candidates need to comply with those deadlines to get on the ballot.

The House should take up the Senate bill and begin to move its own pending version as soon as it returns from recess Sept. 26, or sooner.


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