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Initiatives, Referenda, Republicans, Independents Need More Signatures to Make Ballot; Democrats Need Fewer!

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.


  1. Donald Pay 2022-11-14

    I remember the discussion about the appropriate way to determine how many signatures were needed for initiatives, referendums and candidates. Some felt that 5% of the number of registered voters was the appropriate way to go for ballot measure, but the Secretary of State indicated that that number can change daily, and feared that would sooner or later be subject to litigation. It made sense to set the standard at the total vote in the previous race for governor. Everyone came around to that way of thinking.

  2. Kurt Evans 2022-11-14

    Cory writes:

    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.

    My biggest complaint about the raw deal for independent candidates isn’t about the required number of signatures. When I ran for Congress in 1996, my volunteers and I needed a little more than 3,000 and collected around 4,000. My biggest complaint is about the filing deadline, which used to be in early August but has been arbitrarily, inexplicably, and unconstitutionally moved to earlier and earlier dates several times in the years since.

    I’m pretty sure first person with the time and money to pursue a lawsuit will get the deadline moved back to August and have his or her legal bills reimbursed at our expense.

  3. Kurt Evans 2022-11-14

    I’d written:

    I’m pretty sure first person with the time and money …

    *the first person


  4. Donald Pay 2022-11-14

    I ran for school board twice. I think the required number of signatures was 20 or 25. It took a couple of hours in the evening of going door to door to get about 40 signatures. No one turned me down, which is far, far different from collecting signatures on initiative petitions. Candidates have it pretty easy, really, compared to petitioning on ballot measures.

    I agree with Kurt about the deadline for independent candidates.

  5. Arlo Blundt 2022-11-14

    Hold the Phone!! I’m off topic here but the Argus is reporting that the Government Accountability Board just subpeonaed the DCI to appear before them with records of their investigation into the Governor’s state airplane use. Seems the report that “there was no basis for a prosecution under state law” previously issued by the DCI is beyond the belief of the three retired judges. I have always had faith in this Board to get to the bottom of the Governor’s profligate use of state property.

  6. grudznick 2022-11-14

    They will drink Scotch and smoke fancy stogies while laughing and laughing as they continue with the farce.

  7. Bonnie B Fairbank 2022-11-14

    After this election, nothing bad shall happen to our lying, cheating, and stealing governor.

  8. Mark Anderson 2022-11-14

    You mean the Democrats, Grudz? We did build a wall against the red wave. It’s Tequila and Marijuana though Grudz. It the new replacement theory.

  9. larry kurtz 2022-11-14

    grud might consider fecal implants to aid the gravy taters lodged in that diverticula.

  10. grudznick 2022-11-14

    Do you fellows think they serve pretty good gravy taters on board the Governor’s plane when she’s en route from here to there? I mean to the guests. I’m sure the Governor herself eats sprouts and drinks fru-fru protein shakes. But the guests, flying from here to there, they probably get the best gravy taters available, right?

  11. Robert Rademacher 2022-11-14

    Not for publishing. For Cory to look into. The new proposed license plate again puts South Dakota in script. Most schools do not teach script writing and as i have discovered many can’t script.

  12. Arlo Blundt 2022-11-14

    Grudznick–despite your cynicism and soggy, grease soaked potatoes and bleating sheep, I continue to have faith in the Government Accountability Board. I believe that their legal sensibilities have been offended and their fidelity to duty requires that they pursue justice. They will not desist from their quest for the truth.

  13. grudznick 2022-11-14

    It is indeed heartwarming to learn that good fellows like you, Mr. Blundt, still believe.
    grudznick holds no such hope, nor cares, about this GAB which has never done a damn thing.
    Don’t care much about airplane rides either, of course.

  14. Bob Newland 2022-11-14

    “Don’t care much about airplane rides either, of course.”–grudznutz

    Has anyone ever offered ypu one, you POS coward.

  15. grudznick 2022-11-14

    Typically, Bob, as you should know, I don’t usually wait to be offered a ride, I require it as a condition.

  16. Arlo Blundt 2022-11-14

    Bonnie-Do not be faint of heart. Justice will prevail just as our state has survived all kinds of malfeasance. In the end, the people rule.

  17. grudznick 2022-11-14

    Mr. Blundt is righter-than-right. It should read “In the end, the People rule.”

  18. larry kurtz 2022-11-15

    The margin in Montana’s House of Representatives is now 68 Earth haters to 32 Democrats and voters there think it’s the apocalypse. South Dakota: fascism is God’s will.

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