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SDPB Radio Coverage of the South Dakota Legislature. See all coverage and find links to audio and video streams live from the Capitol at www.sdpb.org/statehouse

Committee Approves Bill Proposing Primary Elections For Certain State Positions

Instead of using party conventions to select who will be on South Dakota’s ballot for certain positions, the state could be moving toward using a primary system. The Senate State Affairs committee approved Senate Bill 82 as amended Friday. Senate Bill 82 asks for the nonpolitical election of the secretary of state, attorney general, state auditor and treasurer, commissioner of school and public lands, and public utilities commissioner. The proposed legislation also prohibits a party from endorsing a potential candidate in those positions. Senator Russell Olson on the committee says he supports the measure because elections should reflect today’s trends.

“I think what the lay-person understands is primary system because that’s where the media attention has fixed lately on who the best person in the primary would be. This is a game changer, and I really do think, it may be ahead its time, but I do think that for the average person out there that doesn’t find themselves watching the political blogs, that doesn’t find themselves following political process in South Dakota as a science would appreciate this type of a gesture and the primary, I think, is something that they can easily identify,” Olson says.

Other supporters of the bill say it will rejuvenate interest in the South Dakota primary…which has been lacking in recent years. Senator Stan Adelstein is the primary sponsor of the bill. Last year Adelstein had called for an investigation into the Secretary of State’s office for criminal wrongdoing, and just recently abandoned his plan to try to impeach current Secretary of State Jason Gant.