Posted by Jesse Shayne on September 13, 2016 at 5:38 PM
AARP, League of Women Voters endorse nonpartisan races
Two statewide groups announced their support Tuesday for a constitutional amendment aimed at removing partisan designations from primary ballots.
At a news conference in Sioux Falls, the South Dakota League of Women Voters and AARP South Dakota said they planned to back the constitutional amendment and encourage their membership to vote "Yes" on the measure.
If approved, the amendment would create a single primary for state races in which candidates appeared on the ballot without party designation. The two candidates with the most votes would move on to the general election regardless of party affiliation.
"Voters pay attention to what the League of Women Voters say and to what the AARP says, so I think it will resonate at the ballot," Rick Knobe, chair of the group backing the measure, said.
Erik Gaikowski of AARP South Dakota and Amy Scott Stoltz of the League of Women Voters of South Dakota said the groups decided to back the amendment because it would allow the state's Independents to vote in a primary election. Currently, South Dakota Independents can vote in the Democratic primary, but not the Republican primary.
Will Mortenson, chair of the committee aiming to oppose the measure, said he didn't think his group was afforded the opportunity to address AARP South Dakota or the League of Women Voters before the groups made their endorsements.
"And I wouldn't be surprised if the Amendment V campaign only told them half the story," Mortenson said. "I think that once individual members of those groups hear what we have to say, they'll get the whole story."
Gaikowski and Scott Stoltz said their organizations carefully studied the amendment before making their endorsements.
Mortenson and other groups opposing the amendment, including the South Dakota Republican Party, the South Dakota Farm Bureau and the South Dakota Association of Cooperatives, have said the measure would reduce transparency on the ballot.
Knobe and Mortenson are set to present their positions at a joint Sioux Falls Area Chamber of Commerce and Sioux Falls League of Women Voters forum Thursday night.
Watch the full press conference below: