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In Touch 7/22/24

The folks from the upcoming Groton “Sip and Shop” join us to talk about the event…

In Touch 7/19/24

Wayne Sorrentino with the 40/8 join us to talk about an upcoming event in Aberdeen and more…

A majority of voters favor the open primaries initiated measure which will be on the ballot in November

(South Dakota News Watch) This year, the June 4 primary had a few examples where local issues on the ballot boosted participation in certain counties:

  • In Davison County, where 41% turnout was among the highest in the state, Mitchell voters weighed in on competitive races for mayor and on a bond issue regarding potential improvements to Lake Mitchell. Both election results were close enough to trigger a possible recount.
  • Also among the highest-turnout counties was Gregory (39%), where the ballot included an initiated measure on whether elections should be hand counted with paper ballots only, with no electronic voting devices or tabulators. Voters rejected the measure, as did voters in Tripp and Haakon counties, where turnout was 37% and 34%, respectively.

Haakon County auditor Stacy Pinner told News Watch that she was encouraged by the level of civic engagement on the hand-counting issue, and also the outcome.

“The results showed that our citizens are confident in how elections are conducted in Haakon County,” she said.

Three states use top-two primaries

Supporters of open primaries believe that Amendment H can bring that level of civic engagement to candidate primaries for statewide, legislative and county offices.

Though nearly half of states have some form of open primary system, only three currently use a top-two primary such as the one proposed for South Dakota.

California and Washington use top-two primaries (with party labels included) in races other than presidential contests, while Nebraska uses a nonpartisan primary for state legislative races as part of its unicameral system.

But Kirby points out that South Dakota’s primary system is the least accessible for non-affiliated voters among the neighboring states.

“Iowa and Wyoming allow independents to vote in either major party primary,” he said. “And in Minnesota, North Dakota and Montana, voters don’t designate a party when they register. They choose which party primary they want to vote in when they arrive at the polls. Independent voters in all our neighboring states have a meaningful voice in their primary elections. Not so in South Dakota.”