Once upon a time, Chuck Parkinson worked for Senator Jim Abdnor. Now the Rapid City Republican is part of the Vote Yes on V campaign, urging South Dakotans to vote for the open non-partisan primary proposal brought to our ballot by 2014 Democratic Senate candidate Rick Weiland. Here’s Parkinson’s pitch for Amendment V at the Brown County Fair here in Aberdeen this afternoon (my apologies for the interruption by the loudspeaker!):
Parkinson is distressed by decreasing voter participation. Pointing to 2014 turnout among voters 30 and under of a meager 15%, Parkinson says far too many independents and young voters feel left out of the process. He recognizes that Amendment V doesn’t guarantee that those voters will come to the polls in greater numbers, but we but giving voters more opportunities can’t hurt.
Parkinson contends that more voters will want to vote in an open, non-partisan primary because more candidates will run and try to appeal to voters beyond the hard-core base of their respective parties. Far from weakening parties, Parkinson thinks that moderating effect will strengthen political parties by making more independents and young voters feel the parties are speaking to them.
Parkinson dismisses the mostly Republican argument that Amendment V creates a right for candidates to hide their party affiliation from voters. In two-degrees-of-separation South Dakota, hiding one’s party affiliation is nearly impossible. Parkinson says “voters are smarter than that”: they will know how to vote with party labels on their ballot.
p.s.: Speaking of two degrees of separation, Chuck’s son Sam works for the South Dakota Democratic Party as finance director. We are all connected!