Initiatives, referendums fill big ballot


Susan Smith, Community News Service

South Dakota voters will have to decide 11 ballot issues Nov. 7 dealing with everything from taxes to gay marriage and whether abortion should be legal.

The last time that many issues filled the state’s ballot was 1970 when voters dealt with residency requirements, retired judges, games of chance, four-year terms, the voting age, presidential election, income tax, constitutional revision and school lands.

Eleven issues also appeared on the state ballot in 1910 and 1914.

But 11 isn’t the record for most state ballot measures. In 1916 there were 16 issues dealing with everything from prohibition and women’s suffrage to creating the state’s bank board, said Kea Warne, state election supervisor.

Thirteen measures appeared on the 1918 ballot such as allowing the state to mine and sell coal, women’s suffrage and an income tax. Voters also had to decide whether the state should go into debt to fund development. Women’s suffrage was approved in 1918 by a 49,318 to 28,934 vote.

Absentee ballot use is strong but state officials credited that to the ease of using that method versus a long ballot. Warne said she expects absentee voting numbers to be at about the same level as 2004. Almost 24 percent of South Dakota’s registered voted absentee during that election. Warne credited the spike to that being the first year in which South Dakotans didn’t have to give a reason for using the absentee ballot.

The following is an overview of the ballot measures South Dakotans will vote on Nov. 7, according to information from the Attorney General’s Office.

Constitutional Amendment C

This would change the state constitution to allow marriage only between a man and a woman. State law already prohibits gay marriage.

Constitutional Amendment D

This would value property based on its sale value as of Jan. 1, 2007. The Legislature could annually adjust the assessed value of that property by 3 percent. Amendment D will not apply to property sold before Jan. 1, 2007. Valuations could be adjusted if the size of the property, use or classification changed.

Constitutional Amendment E

This would allow a 13-member citizen grand jury to review and reverse decisions made by judges and then penalize those decision-makers. Attorney General Larry Long said in his written opinion about the measure that those serving on local government boards and commissions would also be subject to the grand jury. Those who have been prosecuted are allowed to serve on the jury. Cases can be reviewed as long as anyone involved is still alive.

Constitutional Amendment F

This would allow legislators to receive salary, per diem, expenses and mileage reimbursement as provided by law. It would remove the prohibitions against creating special or private laws. It would remove a congressional term limit that was ruled unconstitutional. The changes in Amendment F would require two-thirds of state lawmakers to vote to close a legislative session and require that votes be taken in open session. It would also give lawmakers emergency powers in the case of man-made or natural disasters.

Initiated Measure 2

This would increase the tax on cigarettes by $1 on a 20-stick pack, and $1.25 on 25-stick packs. Other tobacco products such as chewing tobacco would be taxed 35 percent of the wholesale price.

Initiated Measure 3

This would prevent schools from starting prior to the last day of August.

Initiated Measure 4

This would legalize marijuana for medical use. Those using the drug for that purpose would have to be registered and show medical records or a doctor’s orders.

Initiated Measure 5

This would allow state-owned planes to be used only for state business. Violators would face criminal and civil penalties.

Initiated Measure 7

This would outlaw video lottery. Last year video lottery revenue totaled $112 million, 11 percent of the state’s general fund budget.

Initiated Measure 8

This would end the four percent tax on gross receipts of cell phone companies. Last year the tax raised $8.5 million. Counties receive 40 percent of those revenues. The rest goes to the state.

Referred Law 6

This would ban most abortions in the state except those to save the life of the mother. Women could receive emergency contraception prior to the time her pregnancy was confirmed by medical testing.

For more information on these ballot issues go to and look under Elections and Voter Registration.