Voter registration down in SD, but independents upRAPID CITY (AP) — The number of registered voters in South Dakota is down since the last presidential election, but independents have increased during the past four years.
RAPID CITY (AP) — The number of registered voters in South Dakota is down since the last presidential election, but independents have increased during the past four years.
The number of independent voters in the state climbed by 7.5 percent since the 2008 general election, reaching 88,726.
“I think that more and more from both parties are very disenfranchised with the parties and finding the parties are becoming so divisive that it seems like the message is becoming more and more fringe,” said Kim Wright, founder of South Dakota Voice of Independents. “It isn’t about being in the middle but about not being able to identify with the extreme issues.”
Overall, registered voters are down 3.2 percent, or 16,841 statewide, with drops coming for both Democrats and Republicans.
Republican registration is down 4,622 voters, or about 2 percent, though the party picked up more than 400voters from July 1 to Aug. 1.
“It is hard, because it is August, and people are trying to enjoy their summer,” state Republican Party Chairman Tony Post said. “People will start to get engaged after the convention in Tampa.”
Post said his party is targeting registration in specific legislative districts throughout the state, mostly through phone banks.
Democratic voter registration in 2008 soared both nationwide and in South Dakota. More than 13,000 votersregistered Democrat between the 2006 and 2008 general elections, driven largely by Barack Obama’s campaign.
The momentum has since dipped below 2006 levels, with Democratic registration dropping 18,372 voters, or about 9 percent.
State Democratic Party Chairman Ben Nesselhuf said he is not worried.
“Registration doesn’t really concern me. I am more concerned with how people vote,” he said.
Nesselhuf said that when the Democratic Party opened its primary to independents for the 2010 election, it opened the door for independent-leaning Democrats to register as independents.
He called 2008 the “high-water mark of the history of our party” in terms of registration and said it is misleading to compare numbers from now to then.
Both parties are trying to lay claim to the independent vote, and that’s fine with Wright.
“Elections should not be predictable,” she said. “It is about voters and who voters feel best represent them.”