Group pushes for open primaries in South Dakota

Open primaries in Rapid City, South Dakota.
Published: May. 17, 2023 at 6:36 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA) - On Wednesday, a statewide petition drive made it’s way to the western half of South Dakota, with the goal of adopting an open primary ballot election system.

An open primary is a primary election in which voters are not required to declare a party affiliation. Instead, voters are allowed to vote for the candidate they feel is best suited for the job, regardless of party affiliation.

“I think people have gotten more and more ready for this. I think there’s more of a call for it. Amendment V took party labels off the ballots. This does not take party labels off the ballots,” said Nick Reid, a business owner who is part of the open primary committee.

Nicole Heenan, who ran for the state Senate in 2022, says voters in the state are mostly made up of Millennials and Generation Z. She claims those groups have the largest number of registered independents, outnumbering those registered as Democrat or Republican.

“There’s particularly a push back now from younger voters against the parties and against having to register for a particular party. I think if they knew they could register independent and still have a voice, that makes a difference. It makes it easier for voters to vote, which is what we want. Ultimately, lets have the voters vote,” continued Reid.

Heenan added that of the states registered voters, 49 percent are Republican, with the democratic and independent parties both taking up 24 percent of voters. The open primary committee needs more than 37,000 signatures for the change to go to a vote. They have until July 2024 to get those.

In related election news:

With the Rapid City mayoral election coming up, all registered voters will have the opportunity to start voting as early as next week.

Early voting for the upcoming mayoral election starts Monday, May 22. Early voting is only available at the Pennington County Administration Building from 7 a.m to 6 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays.

June 6 is election day and polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at your local polling place. If you are unsure where to vote, you can follow this link: