Ballot Measures


Ballot questions in South Dakota need a simple majority to pass, but many legislators want a change: They’re asking voters to set a 60 percent threshold for some measures. 

The target is anything on a ballot that imposes or increases taxes. The measure would also apply any time the state is spending more than $10 million. 

Republican Sen. Lee Schoenbeck, of Watertown, said it’s a defense against outside influence on ballot issues. 

2020 Ballot Measures

Oct 23, 2020

In this In the Moment Podcast, you'll hear from the proponents and opponents of the initiated measure and constitutional amendemnts South Dakotans will find on their ballot this november. Subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Google Play.

SDPB News: July 31

Jul 31, 2020

Why is the state medical association drafting the opposition towards legalizing both recreational and medical marijuana? Plus, how will the state's largest school district plan on safely getting kids back in the classrooms?

The state wants to catch and prosecute any fraudulent gamblers and cheaters in Deadwood. Larry Eliason, Executive Secretary for South Dakota Commision on Gaming says there's a gap in state law.

The House State Affairs committee is passing a bill that seeks to clear up any confusion surrounding ballot measure questions. One critic says the change creates a system where a yes vote means no and vice versa.

The legislative task force looking into the ballot measure process in South Dakota will not consider limiting the number of ballot questions per election.
The summer committee removed proposed legislation that places a cap on initiative measures, constitutional amendments and referred laws.


Kealey Bultena / SDPB

Later this month, a summer task force will take a closer look at the ability of South Dakotans to create and pass legislation through ballot measures.

Meanwhile… two people are circulating petitions for a constitutional amendment meant to protect that process.

After a laundry list of ballot measure questions from the 2016 election, lawmakers sought to rope in the ballot measure process.

Kent Osborne / SDPB

Lawmakers hope to establish a task force to evaluate the state’s voter initiative and referendum process.
A bill to form a study session passed the House State Affairs committee.
Several bills that relate to the ballot measure process are working through the legislature. Those include changing procedures for filing, certifying and challenging petitions, public comment periods, fiscal impact statements and delaying implementation of ballot measures.

Jenifer Jones / SDPB

A senate bill that delays implementation of voter approved ballot measures to July first is heading to the House floor.
Proponents say current law hardly gives entities impacted by a ballot measure time to react. Opponents say it’s too long for implementing.
When voters approved the 36 percent interest rate cap in November, the payday loan industry had eight days to prepare for the change. The same for state agencies impacted by Marsy’s Law, the crime victims’ rights amendment, and Initiated Measure 22, a campaign ethics and lobbying reform package.

Lawsuit Filed To Stop IM22

Nov 23, 2016
Kealey Bultena / SDPB

Opponents of Initiated Measure 22 are challenging the constitutionality of the campaign reforms approved by voters earlier this month.

A group of state lawmakers, lobbyists, and citizens filed a lawsuit against IM22 in Hughes County Court Wednesday afternoon.

Supporters of IM 22 say this lawsuit goes against the will of voters.

Dakota Political Junkie Denise Ross of the Black Hills Knowledge Network visits about recent financial disclosures regarding ballot measure campaign funding in the state among other issues with the election less than a week away.

Dakota Midday: Dakota Political Junkies

Sep 26, 2016
National Park Service

Dakota Political Junkies Jon Hunter and Seth Tupper discussed Initiated Measure 22. The measure extensively revises state campaign finance laws while requiring additional disclosures and increasing reporting. It lowers contribution amounts to political action committees and creates a publicly funded campaign finance program for statewide and legislative candidates who choose to participate and agree to limits on campaign contributions and expenditures.

South Dakota Legislative Research Council

Two out of ten ballot measures up for vote in South Dakota deal with interest rates. Constitutional Amendment U establishes an 18 percent cap on interest rates in the state.

But there’s a catch.


According to the Attorney General’s explanation, if constitutional amendment U is passed any agreement with a lender may not charge more than 18 percent interest per year. That is if it’s a verbal agreement.

According to Consumer Credit Counseling of the Black Hills, if a loan isn’t agreed to in writing, it didn’t happen.


Two out of ten ballot measures up for vote in South Dakota deal with interest rates. Initiated Measure 21 caps interest rates at 36 percent.

Opponents of the measure say that cap would choke the industry.


A coalition of South Dakota churches and concerned citizens are backing a proposal to cap interest rates at 36 percent. Supporters say it would rope in payday loan companies that charge upwards of 500 percent on short term loans.

Amendment R Opponent Disagrees With Proponents On Cost

Aug 25, 2016
Kent Osborne / SDPB

Amendment R recognizes technical institutes as constitutionally legitimized postsecondary education entities.
One critic of the constitutional amendment says Amendment R could cost the state money down the road.  But proponents disagree.

Kent Osborne / SDPB

Referred Law 19 would uphold a state law passed during the 2015 legislative session, which sought to clarify the election petitioning process.

Proponents say it levels the playing field, while opponents claim it will result in fewer candidates for office.

Kent Osborne / SDPB

In November, South Dakota voters will get the chance to decide whether or not to support a measure that would create a non-partisan primary system.

Supporters say it increases democracy, while opponents say it reduces transparency.

Amendment V is neither a Republican nor a Democrat backed issue. State Republicans decided to oppose the constitutional amendment at their state convention, and state Democrats neither support nor oppose the measure.

As the 2016 South Dakota Legislative session gets underway, Secretary of State Shantel Krebs sits down with Dakota Midday to discuss upcoming ballot initiatives, the spike in concealed weapons permits, and her goals for the 2016 session.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

A poll from AARP South Dakota shows most people who are over age 50 want the state to restrict how much money payday lenders can charge. The membership organization paid for the survey from Alan Newman Research. Poll results are from the end of September and beginning of this month.

Phone calls to 904 older South Dakotans show many people agree the law should cap the interest payday lenders and car title loan companies charge customers. Sarah Jennings is the state director for AARP South Dakota.