By Maggie Owens

You might wonder why a registered Independent who voted Democrat in the last election would change her voter registration to Republican?  Recently a mentor of mine and I were conversing about politics. He mentioned he was an Eisenhower Republican. I had to look that up

He told me he believes in that which improves the quality of life for the most people. As many of us, I have spent a lot of time since the recent presidential election reflecting on how we got here and determining how to take deliberate action to improve the circumstances we face in an uncertain future. Our conversation struck me right at the heart of both issues.

I live in South Dakota, a state that many consider a “one party state” – Republican. There are only a few, such as Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, who have bridged the great divide. For the most part, those with power are Republican, and going against the grain can lead to some steep ramifications (think Annette Bosworth). My mentor’s logic followed that if that is the case, wouldn’t it make sense to have a voice in the primary? If one is an independent, under current regulations, I don’t have a voice or a vote in both the Democratic and Republican primaries. While I am sure to vote in all elections, doesn’t it make sense to work proactively for change within the system in which the power lies?

It does for me.

Post haste, I went down to change my voter registration at the County office. I was ready and willing, but now I am able to enter into political conversations that shape policy implications as they emerge. While I need be only as vocal as I choose to be on any issue, as a registered Republican in the state of South Dakota, my vote counts in what I consider to be a more meaningful way, because I can join the conversation sooner in the process. This is one of my action steps for moving toward meaningful change in the 2020 election.

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