May. 18, 2015

HARRISBURG – Voters will go to the polls Tuesday to cast ballots in the primary election, which determines the candidates who will represent their party in the upcoming general election. If this were a presidential election year, history tells us that voters’ participation in Pennsylvania’s primary elections ends up being either irrelevant or insignificant since earlier caucuses and primaries in other states have already determined each major party’s nominee for president.

Legislation introduced today by Rep. Keith J. Greiner (R-Lancaster) seeks to change that. His bill would change Pennsylvania’s presidential primary date from the fourth Tuesday of April to the third Tuesday of March, a move that would increase the Commonwealth’s relevancy in the race for the White House and, as a result, aim to further stimulate voter participation.

“Pennsylvania is nicknamed the ‘Keystone State’ because of the central role it has played in influencing the cultural, social and political development of the United States,” Greiner said. “Yet, the lateness of our presidential primary diminishes its significance in determining who will lead our nation. By moving Pennsylvania’s primary to the third Tuesday of March, my bill would restore the Commonwealth’s relevancy in shaping the direction of our country.”

Currently, 28 other states, including the District of Columbia, hold their primaries or caucuses before Pennsylvania.

Under Greiner’s bill, Pennsylvania would hold its primary on the same day as Illinois, Missouri and Florida, a winner-take-all state whose governor recently signed into law legislation moving the state’s primary to the third Tuesday of March. That move allows Florida to comply with recent changes to the rules governing the Republican National Committee’s 2016 presidential nominating process. The Ohio House of Representatives recently passed similar legislation.

Those rules dictate that the traditional early states – Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada – will hold primaries in February. The other states may start holding primaries as early as March 1. However, they may not hold winner-take-all contests before March 15 (the third Tuesday of the month) without facing a penalty.

Thus, Greiner’s legislation would retain Pennsylvania’s winner-take-all format for the Republican Party, meaning the winning candidate would receive every delegate at the nominating convention. The Democratic Party would be able to maintain its current delegate process without any changes.

The key is that this legislation provides Pennsylvania residents with the opportunity to impact the presidential nomination process while leaving unchanged the number of delegates awarded to the winner of each party’s presidential primary, Greiner said.

“Both the Republican and Democratic parties would benefit from this change since both parties would still maintain the way delegates are currently allocated,” he added. “The only change is that, under my legislation, those delegates would have the chance to play a much more significant role in determining our next president.”

Aside from the political benefits, moving Pennsylvania’s primary to an earlier date would produce an economic windfall to the Commonwealth as well, Greiner said.

“An estimated $7 billion was spent during the 2012 presidential election,” Greiner said. “With an earlier primary, candidates would focus more of their attention – and campaign resources – on winning Pennsylvania in 2016 and years to come. That would mean increased spending on Pennsylvania businesses that provide services to presidential campaigns, including advertising, hotels, restaurants, rental cars and countless other industries.”

Representative Keith J. Greiner, CPA
43rd Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Jonathan Anzur
717-260-6610 /