SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — South Dakota’s Constitution will not be changing, according to early results on Amendment C.
Since results started first being reported at 8 p.m., the ‘No’ vote has been leading. The final unofficial total with 181,498 votes cast, the ‘No’ vote was at 67% (122,387) and the ‘Yes’ vote was at 33% (59,111), according to the Secretary of State’s office.
The proposed Constitution Amendment would have changed the threshold needed for any future initiated measures or constitutional amendments that impose taxes or fees of more than $10 million. Instead of a simple majority of 51%, it would require a three-fifths vote of 60%.
Amendment C was the only item South Dakota voters could vote on regardless of party registration.
Zach Nistler, campaign spokesperson for South Dakotans for Fair Elections, said South Dakotan voters came out to protect majority rule.
“South Dakotans are paying attention. South Dakotans are listening and engaged and we trust South Dakotans to make important decisions for our state,” Nistler told KELOLAND News Tuesday night. “That is why over 60% of South Dakotans showed up to oppose Amendment C and protect our majority rule.”
Nistler said there was a broad coalition of groups and organizations opposing Amendment C.
“I think there were a lot of unanswered questions about how this would work and what it would actually affect moving forward in South Dakota,” Nistler said. “I think there was a lot of things that were confusing, which is why we tried to bring those issues to the forefront.”
Nistler said Amendment C’s defeat also makes the road easier for Medicaid Expansion, and other future possible ballot measures regarding education funding or law enforcement funding.
The South Dakota Democratic Party released a statement about Amendment C on Wednesday morning. The SDDP said it actively advocated against Amendment C.
“South Dakotans made their voices heard at the ballot box and defeated Amendment C with an overwhelming majority,” SDDP Chairman Randy Seiler said. “Republican legislators and the South Dakota Republican Party should take note that the people of South Dakota overwhelmingly saw through their deceitful tactics to take power away from the people. The South Dakota Democratic Party will always choose people over special interests.”
The group behind getting Medicaid Expansion on the November ballot, South Dakotans Decide Healthcare, sent a news release on Tuesday saying “South Dakotans are ready for Medicaid Expansion.”
Voters will decide on Constitutional Amendment D in November.
“Medicaid expansion is a great deal for South Dakota. We will bring hundreds of millions of our dollars back home, and make 40,000 of our friends and neighbors newly eligible for affordable health care,” Zach Marcus, Campaign Manager for South Dakotans Decide Healthcare, said in a statement.
The controversial amendment was placed on the June primary election ballot by state lawmakers in 2021. It was portrayed as “taxpayer protection” by Rep. Jon Hansen (R-Dell Rapids), while opponents called it “a power grab.”
Matthew Schweich, campaign director for South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws, issued a statement on the defeat of Amendment C.
“Putting aside the indefensible timing of C, it was also deeply flawed in terms of substance. Applying a 60% threshold for passage of a ballot question on the subjective basis of future fiscal impact estimates is a terrible idea,” Schweich said.
Schweich goes on to say:
“Amendment C, from the perspectives of both process and policy, was abysmal. South Dakota voters gave it the embarrassing end that it deserved.
South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws was proud to work in tandem with a diverse collection of organizations to help defeat Amendment C. And we thank South Dakotans for Fair Elections for their critical role in this effort.
Voters in South Dakota have successfully defended their constitutional ballot initiative rights. They have also protected the state’s heritage. South Dakota is the birthplace of the American ballot initiative, an idea that has since spread across the nation. Voters should have a recourse to effectuate changes in policy when elected officials ignore their views. Amendment C’s defeat ensures that this principle will continue to be respected in South Dakota.”
KELOLAND News has reached out to Hansen for a statement on Amendment C. This story will be updated with any response received.
Brendan Johnson, son of former Democratic Senator Tim Johnson, posted on Twitter thanking South Dakota voters.
Johnson wrote: “In a time of unprecedented political division, people of vastly different political backgrounds showed up to defeat Amendment C. The takeaway from these results is that any attempt to upset our legacy of direct democracy will be met with extreme prejudice by voters.”