Student political parties gear up for midterm elections


Augustana student political groups have been beating the party drums throughout the Sioux Falls community this fall and intend on picking up the tempo as Election Day nears.

Although the Augustana Democrats have primarily focused their efforts on local elections, the Augustana Republicans have widened their campaigning to include multiple 2018 ballot measures.

Sophomore Hunter Lipinski, president of Augustana Democrats, said though the group has gotten off to a slow start in regards to campaigning, it did canvass for Melissa Hiatt, who is running for District 13 of the South Dakota Legislature against incumbent Sen. Jack Kolbeck, R-Sioux Falls.

Lipinski said the Democrats have dates set aside in November for more campaigning, but trying to balance coursework and canvassing has been difficult.

“There are a lot of opportunities,” Lipinski said. “People are always reaching out to us, trying to get us to help and do things, but we’re students—school obviously comes first.”

Sophomore Kristina Theodosopoulos, vice president for Augustana Democrats, said the group and the Augustana Republicans helped Augustana Committee of Undergraduate Political Scientists (COUPS) with its registration drive on Sept. 25 and will be helping junior Manaal Ali transport students and people in the Sioux Falls community to the polls on Nov. 6.

Lipinski said the group will also be hosting multiple Democratic candidates in the Viking Days Parade including Tim Bjorkman, who is running for South Dakota’s House of Representatives seat.

“It’s so close to Election Day that it is hard to get people on campus now just because their schedules are so busy,” Lipinski said.

On Oct. 25, eight members of the Augustana Democrats will attend the American Civil Liberties Union of South Dakota’s “Cheers to Liberty” dinner to support people who are incarcerated, the LGBT community and voters.

Junior Emily Novotny, vice president of the Augustana Republicans, said the group has been busy canvassing for multiple state and congressional campaigns.

She said the Republicans have cold-called voters and stuffed mailboxes every Tuesday and Thursday, and canvassed or marched in parades every Saturday, focusing on local Sioux Falls candidates.

Junior Corey Albrecht, president of the Augustana Republicans, said the group has also cold-called voters about 2018 ballot measures through Americans for Prosperity, a political advocacy group, concentrating on Amendment W and Initiated Measure 25.

If approved, Amendment W would establish a seven-member independent accountability board with investigative power over legislators, change campaign finance and lobbying laws and authorize new laws regarding the initiative and referendum process. Initiated Measure 25 would increase taxes on tobacco products.

Novotny said she believes the accountability board would be unconstitutional.

“[The members] would be appointed, so there’s no way for citizens to have a say in who’s on this board or for the citizens to check the power of the board,” Novotny said.

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