South Dakota Considers Whether Voters Are Smart Enough for Direct Democracy

Legislators in South Dakota are looking to tweak the way voters are given permission to vote directly on ballot initiatives.

Needed change or ‘unprecedented attack’? Legislators weigh how voters modify laws

South Dakota lawmakers are taking up more than 20 measures aimed at changing the way voters consider policy changes at the ballot.

The slate of proposals ranges from barring voters from bringing constitutional amendments to the ballot to modifying font size.

Opponents say the measures present an “unprecedented attack” on the direct democracy process a year after legislators struck a voter-approved campaign finance and ethics law.

Meanwhile, the legislator leading the charge to reform the initiative and referendum process said it is susceptible to the influence of out-of-state groups looking to assert influence over South Dakota law.

After circulating a pair of ballot petitions of his own, House Speaker Mark Mickelson, R-Sioux Falls, said changes he brought forth would be manageable for those bringing issues to the ballot.

“I don’t think I’m proposing any idea out here that I didn’t comply with or wouldn’t,” he said. “I didn’t take out-of-state money, and I didn’t use non-residents to circulate. I didn’t have people attest to petitions they didn’t see circulate, and those are the things I saw happen.”

Now, the decisions will fall to lawmakers to find balance between ensuring citizens’ ability to refer issues to the ballot, and blocking foreign influence on the state’s laws and Constitution.

Read More at Argus Leader
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