Legislative leaders on Monday said they’re working with election officials to change the 2024 primary date after local politicians asked lawmakers to consider moving Election Day because it lands on a major Jewish holiday.
“A primary election date that unintentionally coincides with the Passover holiday would prevent thousands of Marylanders from engaging in their fundamental right to vote,” said Senate President Bill Ferguson, of Baltimore City, and House Speaker Adrienne A. Jones, of Baltimore County, in a joint statement.
Both Democrats said they have been intentional in their “effort to pass election laws and create policies that remove barriers to voting.”
Del. Dalya Attar said she is drafting a bill to shift the election date one week to April 16, 2024. The House rules committee will first need to review the bill because it was requested after a key deadline.
Attar, a Democrat, represents Northwest Baltimore, which has a large Orthodox Jewish population.
Attar and fellow Baltimore Democrat, Del. Sandy Rosenberg, delivered a letter to Linda Lamone, the head of the State Board of Elections, on Wednesday, expressing their desire to change the date. They noted that a Baltimore City primary election day was changed in 1991 due to a conflict with a Jewish holiday.
State law sets the primary date in presidential election years for the fourth Tuesday of April, and it dictates that only the General Assembly can change election dates, barring other circumstances.
Former Gov. Larry Hogan delayed the 2020 primary at the outset of the coronavirus pandemic, and Maryland’s highest court delayed the 2022 primary while legal challenges to new district maps were still unresolved.
Maryland law also allows voters to cast ballots by mail and in person prior to Election Day.
The state’s response comes after Baltimore City Mayor Brandon Scott and Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr. on Tuesday sent letters requesting that the General Assembly address the conflict.
Baltimore Banner reporter Emily Sullivan contributed to this article.