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Consumer health advocates urge governor to sign bill package; NY protests for Jewish democracy heighten as Netanyahu meets UN today; Multiple Utah cities set to use ranked-choice voting in next election.

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The Pentagon wants to help service members denied benefits under "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," advocates back a new federal office of gun violence prevention, and a top GOP member assures the Ukrainian president more help is coming.

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An Indigenous project in South Dakota seeks to protect tribal data sovereignty, advocates in North Carolina are pushing back against attacks on public schools, and Arkansas wants the hungriest to have access to more fruits and veggies.

Backers of 'Open Primary' Plan for SD Continue Petition Rollout

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Thursday, April 27, 2023   

In the coming months, South Dakotans will see outreach about some big changes potentially being ushered into the state's primary elections.

This month, a coalition filed a petition to collect signatures to get an "open-primary" question on the 2024 ballot.

The plan says in races for Governor, Congress, the Legislature and county seats, the two candidates with the most votes would advance to the general election, regardless of party affiliation.

South Dakota Open Primaries Coalition Chairman Joe Kirby said South Dakota's longstanding primary process has become too partisan.

"Republicans running in the Republican primary have to lean very far right to get nominated, and same with Democrats," said Kirby. "The Democrats have to lean left in their primary to get elected. In an open primary system, candidates realize they have to appeal to all voters."

The coalition says the current process limits the voices of independent voters and points out that many candidates end up running unopposed. That's been the case for Republican legislators, who hold large majorities.

Currently for primaries in South Dakota, voters can only request a ballot for the party they're registered with, but parties do have authority to consider requests from unaffiliated voters.

Those seeking changes say that "permission factor" leaves too much uncertainty for those not affiliated with a party.

In speaking up for independent voters, Kirby said there are many of them spread across the state. He added that their tax dollars help cover the costs of primary elections that shut them out.

"About a fourth of our voters in South Dakota are unaffiliated or independent," said Kirby, "and they don't get to vote in the primaries."

Kirby said he feels a lot of voters will get behind the idea, but acknowledges it likely won't sit well with longtime members of major political parties.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, primary voting laws vary widely among states.

The approach the South Dakota coalition is seeking is used in similar ways in states like California, Nebraska and Washington.

Support for this reporting was provided by the Carnegie Corporation of New York.




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