As if sponsoring this blog isn’t enough, former Senator Stanford Adelstein shows his good non-partisan sense by endorsing Amendment V, the open non-partisan primary proposal. Adelstein says he wants all voters to have a say in picking legislators and statewide officials, just as we do in our city and school board elections.
My reasons are simple and grounded in the basic fundamental freedoms we hold dear: that every voter, including 115,000 independents in South Dakota, should be able to cast a meaningful vote for their elected officials; and that those elected officials be public servants, not party servants [Stanford Adelstein, “Amendment V Gives Everyone a Vote,” Rapid City Journal, 2016.08.27].
Like his fellow Rapid City Republican Chuck Parkinson, Adelstein feels party primaries discourage too many South Dakotans from participating in elections. Adelstein would have settled for something like the open-primary bill he proposed in 2011, which would have kept partisan primaries but allowed unaffiliated voters pick one party’s ballot and vote. Adelstein is willing to embrace the more far-reaching Amendment V because nonpartisan elections work just fine in South Dakota’s local elections. He also rejects as “complete nonsense” the “scare tactic” his party leaders are plying to make voters think V somehow would “hide” candidates’ party affiliations:
We already use nonpartisan elections for local elections. And candidate affiliation is public information that will be publicized by the media, the candidates, the parties and, of course, by the opposition candidates. Ensuring all voters have a voice is the real transparency that our state and country desperately needs [Adelstein, 2016.08.27].
Adelstein prioritizes his principles properly: the state’s interest in encouraging every citizen to vote outweighs the parties’ interest in having the state promote party brands. Republicans, Democrats, and our other always fledgling parties can select their candidates and promote their ideals without the state paying for their primaries or their labels on the ballot. Amendment V invites more people to vote more often while leaving parties free to conduct their affairs as they see fit.