I don’t think there’s anything more likely the week after Thanksgiving than re-heated leftovers that have been lurking around the fridge, but provide meals of diminishing quality. Which is why it’s not unexpected to see Joe Kirby of Sioux Falls is in the news, yet again. Pushing the concept of a jungle primary ballot measure. Yet again.
A campaign committee calling itself South Dakota Open Primaries filed paperwork with the South Dakota Legislative Research Council Wednesday that seeks to place a constitutional amendment on the 2024 ballot.
If successfully placed on the 2024 ballot and adopted by voters, all the candidates would compete in a single primary open to all South Dakota voters. The two candidates that receive the most votes would advance to the general election. Party affiliation of candidates, or lack thereof, would be indicated on the ballot, according to the organization.
Oh, for crying out loud. Can these guys not take a hint?
They tried it in 2016. It was defeated 55% – 45%
They tried it in 2018. They gathered signatures, but could not get enough valid signatures to put it on the ballot.
They tried it in 2022. They could not get enough signatures to even bother turning it in.
I sense a trend.
As I’ve noted before.. several times now.. this is a solution in search of a problem that no one has been asking for. Going back to when the measure was first proposed in South Dakota, while the proponents have all these noble goals, in practice, the solution ends up being worse than the problem:
We’ve seen this same phenomenon before, but this is the first single-party statewide election ever to take place in Washington. That’s just terrible for democracy. California also uses a top-two primary, and there, polls show that many Republican voters simply plan to sit out this year’s Senate race between Democrats Kamala Harris and Loretta Sanchez. But at least we know that California, a very blue state, would likely have elected a Democrat to succeed retiring Sen. Barbara Boxer anyway. Washington, by contrast, almost certainly would have voted in another Democrat as treasurer, so the situation here is particularly perverse.
Supposed “good-government” reformers naïvely believed that eliminating partisan primaries would somehow crank down partisan gridlock by forcing office-seekers to moderate their views in order to win. Not only has that not happened, but voters have repeatedly been denied the opportunity to vote for the party of their choice thanks to debacles like these. It’s long past time for proponents to acknowledge their mistake and advocate for a return to proper primaries—and proper democracy.
And that’s coming from the Democrats.
Jungle primaries – providing diminished participation in elections, cutting candidate choice in the November election, and even more polarized candidates. That’s what Joe’s ballot measure would provide.
A menu choice that no one was looking for when it was fresh. And it has just gotten less appetizing as time goes by.