Amendment C defeated in South Dakota

Amendment C was defeated by South Dakota voters on June 7, 2022.

With 99.7% of precincts reporting, the ‘No’ vote was at 67.43% (122,387), and the ‘Yes’ vote was at 32.57% (59,111), with a total of 163,014 voting on the amendment.

The amendment would have changed the voter requirement threshold for future ballot measures, and may have impacted ballot measures appearing on the South Dakota ballot in November. It could have impacted Constitutional Amendment D, an initiative appearing on the November 2022 ballot that would expand Medicaid in South Dakota.

Currently, in South Dakota, a measure that appears on the ballot needs a simple majority vote (50%+1) to be adopted. Amendment C would have changed this, specifically pertaining to measures that would increase taxes or fees, or that would require the state to appropriate $10 million or more in the first five fiscal years. Instead of requiring a simple majority from voters, Amendment C would have changed the threshold to a three-fifths (60%) supermajority vote.

Amendment C was the only ballot measure that appeared on the June 7 ballot.

Zach Nistler, a spokesperson for South Dakotans for Fair Elections, told KELOLAND News that South Dakota voters came out to keep the majority rule for ballot measures. “South Dakotans are paying attention,” Nistler stated, “South Dakotans are listening and engaged and we trust South Dakotans to make important decisions for our state. That is why over 60% of South Dakotans showed up to oppose Amendment C and protect our majority rule.”

State Rep. Jon Hansen (R-25), the South Dakota representative who sponsored the amendment, told Argus Leader that the amendment failed due to the influence of out-of-state groups. “Unfortunately, Amendment C came up short today because liberal groups who want to tax and spend our money on their own special interest programs poured a million and a half dollars – the majority of that coming from out of state – into false and misleading advertising,” Hansen stated.

Through May 18, South Dakotans Against Higher Taxes, which campaigned for Amendment C, received $905,988, including $836,488 from Americans for Prosperity and $50,000 from the Opportunity Solutions Project. South Dakotans for Fair Elections, which campaigned against Amendment C, received $1.63 million. The largest donors were the National Education Association ($455,960),

The Fairness Project ($367,696), Avera Health ($250,000) and Sanford Health ($250,000)

With the defeat of Amendment C, the Medicaid initiative on the South Dakota ballot in November will only need a simple majority vote to pass.

“Today, the people of South Dakota have preserved their right to use direct democracy,” said Kelly Hall, executive director of The Fairness Project, an organization that campaigned against Amendment C, “This victory will benefit tens of thousands of South Dakotans who will choose to use the ballot measure process to increase access to health care for their families and neighbors, raise wages, and more policies that improve lives. We look forward to what’s next in South Dakota: an aggressive campaign to expand Medicaid in the state.”

In November, voters in at least three other states will decide on legislative proposals to change citizen-initiated ballot measure processes. In Arkansas, electors will vote on a constitutional amendment to increase the vote requirement from a simple majority to 60% for citizen-initiated measures and constitutional amendments.

Since 1985, voters in South Dakota have approved 26 legislatively referred constitutional amendments. They have now rejected 27.

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