Well, they won’t say that in so many words. But under the guise of fighting big money and out-of-state influences, they propose a variety of measures to make it harder to put measures to a statewide vote, such as…
- Raising the number of votes necessary for the Legislature to place a constitutional amendment on the ballot;
- Requiring signatures from 2% of voters in every Senate district;
- Increasing the signature threshold from 5% of votes cast for Governor in the last election to 5% of voters registered.
Tinkering with the Legislative vote requirement for constitutional amendments seems utterly gratuitous: out of three proposed amendments in 2015 and five proposed amendments in 2016, the Legislature placed only one on the 2016 ballot, Amendment R, the vo-tech governance revision that barely passed muster with the voters. Sen.-Elect Bolin seems to think that he and his fellow legislators are far more sensitive to out-of-state influence than we the rabble; surely Bolin and his colleagues can resist the machinations of outside influences without tinkering with constitutional vote thresholds.
Raising the signature requirements for initiative and referendum petitions will do nothing to stop outside money from hijacking our ballot. Bolin and Haggar’s proposed limitations will actually give big money more dominance over our ballot:
…Michael Card, a political science professor and associate provost at the University of South Dakota, said requiring more signatures or signatures from a geographically broader group of South Dakotans wouldn’t solve the problem.
“More signatures, that just favors more money,” Card said [Dana Ferguson, “Should It Be Tougher to Put Questions on S.D. Ballots?” that Sioux Falls paper, 2016.12.13].
The answer to Ferguson’s headline question is NO. Bolin’s and Haggar’s proposals will only shut grassroots South Dakotans further out of the political process… which, of course, is the long-standing intent of the Republican Party, which hates voters’ willingness to overrule SDGOP priorities.