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Parkinson: Amendment V Encourages Voter Participation, Doesn’t Hide Party Labels

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!


  1. Adam 2016-08-19 21:28

    If you need a cheat sheet showing all the Rs & Ds on the voting ballot, then you just shouldn’t be voting to start with. Only the lowest information voters think a cheat sheet belongs on the test.

    I am concerned that without an R or a D next to the initiated measures and amendments, on the ballot, South Dakota will be lost in the complexity of what they actually would do. As long as SDGOP says, “these are all big government liberal propositions,” that’s just about all the conserva-voter needs to hear to say no to everything on the list.

    It’s a weak and aimless anti-liberal ideology that has made this state so regressive and ‘lost’ in terms of what any government should proactively do.

  2. Darin Larson 2016-08-19 22:37

    Question: Isn’t it just the primary election that is non-partisan? The general election would still have the cheat sheet of party labels, correct?

  3. drey samuelson 2016-08-20 00:21

    Darin–no, if Amendment V passes, partisan labels will not be on the general election ballot, either (just as they are not on the Nebraska ballot for legislative races, and haven’t been for 80 years). Voters who care about what party someone belongs to can easily locate that information elsewhere (and the parties and often the candidates will be happy to tell you), but the most compelling reason to keep them off is because–again, as in Nebraska–since the election would be nonpartisan, the legislature would no longer be organized by party, either. Party caucuses don’t exist in the Nebraska Legislature, so policy isn’t made behind closed partisan doors (as it is in Pierre), and legislators from both parties (or not party, for that matter) are eligible to become legislative committee chairs, and do (currently, the chair of the Nebraska Appropriations Committee is a registered Democrat–Heath Mello). It also leads to much more effective checks and balances when the dominant party can’t sweep scandals “under the rug,” as there is no dominant party…

  4. Darin Larson 2016-08-20 09:06

    Thanks Drey! A legislature based upon ideas and open door debate, rather than party labels, would be a breath of fresh air here in South Dakota. Although, sometimes the debate in public reveals the ignorance that pervades our legislature on some issues. In any event, it is better to have the debate in public where ignorance and hate can be civilly confronted rather than have the echo chamber of a closed Republican caucus decide an issue in private. South Dakota will be the better for it. Go V! V for Victory!

  5. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-08-20 09:20

    Adam, I increasingly hear Republicans playing the elitists, arguing that voters aren’t smart enough to figure out candidates and ballot measures, while we Democrats express our faith in the voters’ intelligence and try to broaden their opportunities to cast votes and make decisions.

  6. jerry 2016-08-20 09:27

    Voters are smart enough to figure it out if they get off their arse’s and do just a little do diligence as we should with all candidates that want to represent us. Here is why Independent voters sometimes get sidetracked into believing that independent is really supposed to be Independent. Leave it to the right wing to muddy the waters.

  7. Adam 2016-08-20 15:03

    The elitist are saying that SD voters aren’t smart enough to think for themselves, and it is an attempt at getting voters to self-fulfill the prophecy. It is also an admission by SDGOP that they require their legion of passionate fools, to vote, in order to maintain their monopoly on Pierre.

    Voting no on Amendment V is the same as raising your hand high in the air and proclaiming to your friends, family and neighbors, “I am a dummy – I stopped thinking for myself years ago, and I’m happier now than ever.”

    Chuck presents very well! I just wish moderate Republicans had in them to come right out and admit, “we have been cultivating anti-government sentiment and relying upon single issue voters for far too long. Over the years, we caused this problem in our party, by not keeping our radical wing(s) in check, and now is the time to do something about it!”

  8. Mark Winegar 2016-08-20 18:16

    We need to increase voter turnout and give the people a greater voice in government. That’s why I’m voting for Amendment V.

  9. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-08-23 20:36

    If we share Chuck, Adam, and Jerry’s faith in the voters’ intelligence, we vote YES with Mark on V.

    Funny that it’s usually the Republicans playing elitist while we Democrats stand for the voters.

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