Yesterday the League of Women Voters sent out a robocall saying former Senators Tom Daschle and Tim Johnson are endorsing Amendment V, the open nonpartisan primary proposal:
Today I get a press release from former Senator Larry Pressler endorsing Amendment T, the proposal to end gerrymandering and put an independent commission in charge of drawing Legislative boundaries. Here’s Senator Pressler’s explanation of his endorsement:
This November, I will be voting YES on Constitutional Amendment T. I have looked at it and it is the most important vote you will cast on November 8th.
Why is Amendment T so important? Every ten years, the South Dakota Legislature is responsible for re-drawing voting maps in order to adjust for shifts in population. The goal of the redistricting process is to ensure that the state is divided into relatively equal competitiveness. Just how this is done and who is responsible for the process is left up to members of the South Dakota legislative bosses. Constitutional Amendment T will change that by putting redistricting in the hands of an impartial committee of registered voters. Presently, we have a gerrymandered state legislature, and whoever’s party is in power adjusts the districts to lock in complete control in the interest of the party, not necessarily of the people. These party bosses carve the lines of the districts in order to keep their party in control. We must reform that in order to shift the power out of the hands of incumbent politicians and into the hands of the voters of South Dakota.
Amendment T establishes several constitutional safeguards for voters. Amendment T bans the use of political party identification and incumbency to manipulate voter maps. It requires counties and neighborhoods be kept in the same district whenever possible. It requires committee members not hold public office three years before or after being selected to the commission. And, Amendment T gives South Dakotans a 30-day public comment period to express their comments and concerns on potential voter maps. Amendment T takes the power out of the hands of “party bosses.”
After the voting maps are drawn, they are in effect for ten years. By manipulating a line here or there, the outcome of multiple elections is affected. Party bosses with an interest in the outcome should not have that kind of power.
In order to curb corruption and hold politicians accountable, we need to pull back the curtain of secrecy on drawing the legislative maps in South Dakota. We need to create a fair and balanced process because voters should be choosing their politicians, not the other way around.
Amendment T improves the way we draw voting maps in South Dakota. It puts voters like you back in charge of elections. Join me and thousands of Republicans, Independents, and Democrats in South Dakota and Vote YES on Amendment T this fall [Senator Larry Pressler, press release, 2016.09.30].
Senators Daschle, Johnson, and Pressler are all bucking our current Senators, who have spoken explicitly (and, in Mike Rounds’s case, falsely) against the open nonpartisan primary and whose GOP leaders are fighting to protect their gerrymandering power.
Our former legislators are offering good advice if we, as South Dakotans, wish to limit the current partisan dominance of our state. Limiting gerrymandering is a sure fire way to limit the status quo….Open primaries may not end party controls, but can certainly change the candidate playing field!! YES on T and V are great strides in the right direction.