Open Primaries SD Revises Amendment to Include County Offices, Submits to A.G.

Joe Kirby tells me that Open Primaries South Dakota has submitted a revised draft of its open-primary amendment to the Attorney General.

The text submitted yesterday differs slightly from the first draft I published on Thursday. Based on comments from the Legislative Research Council, OPSD made one substantive change, including county officials among the candidates nominated by open primary, and one minor language change, striking an apparently redundant sentence that said a registered voter may vote for any candidate. The A.G thus has this text in his hands:

That Article VII of the Constitution of South Dakota be amended by adding thereto NEW SECTION to read as follows:

§ 4. An open primary election shall be held prior to the general election to nominate candidates for the office of Governor, the Legislature, all county elective offices, and the United States Senate and House of Representatives. The primary election for such candidates shall be open to all registered voters. The two candidates who receive the most votes in the open primary are the nominees for each office. If more than one candidate is to be elected to an office, the number of nominees shall be twice the number to be elected [Open Primaries South Dakota, amendment text, submitted to Attorney General Marty Jackley 2017.05.13].

Kirby says including county officials in the open primary simplifies the election process and reduces costs. Last year’s Amendment V covered the same offices and had no fiscal impact statement, so Kirby says OPSD’s amendment should also pose no significant fiscal impact.

Including county officials in the open primary means the only office for which South Dakota would continue to hold a partisan primary would be President. Given the national nature of that election process, there’s no sensible way South Dakota could conduct an open primary and conceivably nominate two Republicans for President while the rest of the country nominates a Republican and a Democrat separately.

If A.G. Jackley counts Saturday as submission date, he has until July 12 to provide his formal explanation of the measure, at which point Open Primaries SD will be free to start circulating their initiative petition to place their amendment on the 2018 ballot. July 12 through November 6—that’s 117 days to collect 27,741 signatures—add a minimum 20% cushion, don’t count the last day, which should be all checking and submitting… call it 300 signatures per day.