Supporters of a proposed constitutional amendment that would switch South Dakota to an open primary system for some political offices say they plan to put the measure before voters in 2018. The effort includes veterans of a campaign last year for a similar amendment that didn’t pass, but backers of the new proposal say they’ve learned lessons from the previous push. Joe Kirby, chairman of the group proposing the constitutional amendment, said it would apply to primaries including those for the state Legislature, governor and congressional offices. For example, in a gubernatorial race under the plan, there would be an open primary 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.
“It’s awful simple. It’s all about fairness,” said Kirby, who lives in Sioux Falls. “Our slogan is: ‘Let all voters vote.'”
There are roughly 123,000 independents, 169,400 Democrats and 254,000 Republicans in South Dakota, according to secretary of state’s office voter registration totals. Republican Party Chairman Dan Lederman and Democratic Party Chairwoman Ann Tornberg didn’t immediately return telephone messages requesting comment from The Associated Press.