A national nonprofit has pledged $140,000 to help supporters of a constitutional amendment that would move South Dakota to an open primary system for many races, the nonprofit’s spokesman said Tuesday. New York-based Open Primaries is supporting the amendment campaign’s signature-gathering efforts, spokesman Jeremy Gruber said. The proposed amendment would have the top two finishers in a primary advance to the general election regardless of party. Backers of the amendment hope to start gathering signatures around Sept. 1, campaign chairman Joe Kirby of Sioux Falls said. They must submit nearly 28,000 valid signatures to the secretary of state by November 2017 for the amendment to appear on the 2018 ballot.
… The proposal would apply to primaries for county offices, Legislature, governor and U.S. House and Senate. For example, in a gubernatorial race under the plan, there would be an open primary for all candidates in which the top two vote-getters would advance to the general election.
Supporters say the measure would be fairer because many elections now are effectively decided in partisan primaries closed to independent voters. In South Dakota, the Democratic primary is open to independents, while the Republican primary is closed.