South Dakota’s voter turnout percentage for the 2022 election was down from 2018, but the number of people who voted was still up. 10,952 more South Dakotans cast votes for Governor in 2022 than in 2018, but the state had 51,748 more registered voters. Turnout for this year’s gubernatorial election thus was 58.6%, down from 62.2% in 2018.
The higher vote count means folks circulating petitions for the codification of Roe v. Wade and other potential initiatives and referenda for the next two election cycles will need to collect more signatures to place their measures on the 2024 and 2026 ballots. Petitions for initiated laws and referred laws must draw signatures numbering at least five percent of the votes cast in the most recent gubernatorial election. Initiated amendments require double that number of signatures, at least ten percent of the votes cast for Governor last time around.
350,166 South Dakotans cast votes for either Kristi Noem, Jamie Smith, or Tracey Quint in this general election. Thus, petitions to initiate or refer laws now require 17,509 signatures, 548 more than they did in the 2020 and 2022 cycles. Petitions to amend the state constitution via the 2024 or 2026 ballot will require 35,017 signatures, 1,095 more than the last couple cycles.
Tuesday’s turnout also affects the number of signatures candidates will need for their nominating petitions. SDCL 12-6-7 requires statewide candidates to get signatures equal to at least one percent of the turnout for their last gubernatorial candidate. Noem increased her vote total by 44,099; thus, Republicans running for statewide office in the next couple cycles will need to collect 2,171 petition signatures, 441 more than they did for 2020 and 2022. Smith’s loss of nearly 40,000 votes compared to the more popular Billie Sutton in 2018 means Democrats running for statewide office now need only 1,232 signatures, 363 fewer than the last couple cycles. Independent candidates continue to get a raw deal—SDCL 12-7-1 requires them to get signatures equal to one percent of the last total vote for governor, so the increase in gubernatorial votes of 10,952 from 2018 to 2022 means an increase in minimum indy sigs of 109, from 3,393 to 3,502.