October 24, 2018

Ballot Measures: South Dakota

Absentee in person voting in South Dakota runs from September 21 to November 6

by Chris Thomas

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Image via John B. Kalla

South Dakota has five measures on its November 2018 ballot. Of these, nearly all have to do with the way South Dakota governs itself.

Amendment W

If passed, Amendment W would institute campaign finance restrictions and strip legislative control over the referendum process. South Dakota’s legislature repealed a voter-approved campaign finance measure in 2016 and this attempts to restore it and prevent future repeal by the legislature.

Impact: Major — The campaign finance changes aren’t that big a deal but this will make South Dakota’s referendum process a lot more important.
Support: Bipartisan — Opposition seems to consist mainly of business groups and Americans for Prosperity.

Amendment X

If passed, Amendment X would require a 55% supermajority for future constitutional amendments. Currently amendments require a simple majority to pass muster so Amendment X has the potential to lock-in the rest of the amendments on the 2018 docket

Impact: Major — Especially in conjunction with the other amendments in play, Amendment X could reshape the way South Dakota’s constitution is updated.
Support: Republican — Democrats opposed the amendment, citing concerns that a higher threshold will require more expensive campaigns for amendments and give more power to out-of-state money.

Amendment Z

If passed, Amendment Z would require that future constitutional amendments to the state constitution consist of only one subject.

Impact: Major — Like Amendment X, Amendment Z will make it much harder to amend the state constitution.
Support: Republican — Democrats opposed this amendment, citing the high cost of getting measures on the ballot and raising the question of who decides if an amendment covers two topics or only one.

Measure 24

The measure would prevent people, political action committees, and others from out-of-state from contributing to ballot question committees.

Impact: Minor — Entities that want to make contributions have to be registered with the state for four years; this will be quickly circumvented
Support: Mixed — Republican members of the SD House are split on the issue and though Democrats opposed it in 2018, about half approved it in 2017.

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