If the proposed state constitutional amendment is approved, the state would go to open primary elections. No party labels. No Republican affiliation. No Democrat affiliation. The top two finishers then would square off [Mark Russo, “No ‘R’s and No ‘D’s Please,” KELO Radio, 2017.07.12].
As I reported in May when Kirby released his proposed initiative, unlike Amendment V, this amendment does not affect the inclusion of party labels next to candidates’ names on the ballot. Here again is the very brief text of the Kirby amendment:
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].
Those 90 words say nothing about party labels on the ballot. A.G. Jackley’s explanation of those 90 words says nothing about removing party affiliation from the ballot. If we pass the open-primary amendment, the Board of Elections will have to promulgate a new rule for the form of the primary ballot, but nothing in this open-primary amendment forbids placing party labels on that open-primary ballot.
By the way, even though this open-primaries amendment is the shortest initiative submitted so far this year, A.G. Jackley still took almost the full 60 days allowed by law to compose his explanation, which is 2.2 times longer than the amendment he’s explaining.