Higher bar for changing Constitution in South Dakota voters’ hands

Later this year, South Dakotans will vote on whether the state should have a higher bar for changing the Constitution. Under the proposal, placed on the ballot this year by the Legislature, constitutional amendments would require approval of 55 percent of the votes cast.

The South Dakota measure is modeled in part on a change made two years ago by Colorado voters. In addition to the 55 percent threshold, Colorado now requires that 2 percent of registered voters in each of the state’s Senate districts sign any petition that proposes a constitutional change. In March, a federal judge ruled that this geographic requirement was unconstitutional (based on the “one person, one vote” principle). Colorado has appealed the decision.

Five Midwestern states allow constitutions to be changed without legislative action. (A sixth Midwestern state, Illinois, provides for voter-initiated changes only to the legislative article of the Constitution). To get on the ballot in South Dakota, Michigan and Ohio, proposed amendments require valid signatures equal to 10 percent of the votes cast for governor in the most recent election. The thresholds in Nebraska and North Dakota are 10 percent of registered voters and 4 percent of the state population, respectively.
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Stateline Midwest: June/July 20182.11 MB