South Dakota Moves A Step Closer to Nonpartisan Elections

South Dakotans for Nonpartisan Elections announced this week that it is launching a statewide campaign to educate voters about nonpartisan primaries in the hopes that Amendment V, an initiative to implement nonpartisan open primary elections, will pass in November 2016.

Amendment V, if passed, would implement nonpartisan primary elections for state races, similar to the nonpartisan primary systems in California, Nebraska, and Washington state.

“People in this country are increasingly suspicious of each other, and the partisan system is completely dividing the country,” Amendment V’s campaign co-chair Drey Samuelson stated in a previous interview for IVN. “One of the best solutions to this problem is an open primary system. This would encourage cooperation rather than division.”

It is not new that many Americans are fed up with the current political landscape and its encompassing government gridlock. This is the reason why so many American voters, now 45%, have chosen to identify as independent.

As the disillusionment with government continues to grow, many states, like South Dakota and Arizona, are looking toward institutional solutions to make government more effective. For South Dakota, this solution might be Amendment V:

“Adoption of a single, non­partisan primary election system has proven its ability to insulate states from the partisanship and dysfunction that has gripped most of the country…In the partisan arena of South Dakota, all the independence and creativity that are consistent hallmarks of the non­partisan system have disappeared, to the detriment of the State,” the group writes.

Over 100,000 voters in South Dakota are registered as independent and are therefore locked out of participating in the primary process. That means that nearly 1 in 5 voters in South Dakota are not allowed to exercise their right to vote unless they register as a Republican or choose to vote in the Democratic Party’s primary (the Democratic Party in South Dakota opened their primary to independent voters in 2010).

This is one reason why over 40,000 South Dakotans signed the initiative to place Amendment V on the November ballot. South Dakota could likely be the next state to implement nonpartisan open primaries and it certainly isn’t alone in pushing for a solution to the partisan problem.

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