South Dakota Open Primaries Petition hits milestone

SIOUX FALLS – The top-two primary election initiative recently passed the halfway point in signature gathering. The nonpartisan South Dakota Open Primaries ballot committee has collected 25,797 signatures to put their initiative on the 2024 ballot. Although only 35,017 signatures are needed to place a constitutional amendment on the ballot, the ballot committee aims to submit 50,000 signatures.
“The South Dakota Democratic Party has not taken a position on the open primary petition”, Executive Director of the SDDP Dan Ahlers told Native Sun News Today.
“We believe democracy works best when all citizens have an equal voice and an equal vote in every public election. It’s not fair that 153,256 registered independent voters do not have the same rights as those who support a political party,” notes committee co-chairman Joe Kirby (R). “With an open primary election, all registered voters may vote for their favored candidate, with the top two vote-getters advancing to the general election in November.”
This initiative promises to in crease voter participation in the state’s elections. The South Dakota Legislative Research Council, the research arm of the South Dakota Legislature, has determined that an additional 50,355 ballots will need to be printed, should the amendment pass. Among the past five election cycles, primary election turnout in South Dakota has been as low as 20%.
“Research has shown that voters in states that have implemented open primaries really like it,” says co-chair Drey Samuelson (D). “Voter turnout increases dramatically, and this amendment will advance voter engagement. Decisions will be more representative of the wishes of the voting public.”
The required number of signatures must be submitted by May 7, 2024 to obtain ballot access, giving the committee another 6 months to complete the effort.
Each candidate would be allowed to be identified by registration status and still allow the top two vote getters to move on to the general election. All voters could participate in the same primary but they could pick out candidates by party registration if they wanted to.

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