Washington, DC – Today, South Dakotans will confront an effort at the ballot box to weaken direct democracy in the form of Amendment C, an attempt to require 60% of votes cast to win most future ballot measures. Fairness Project has invested more than $250,000 into the South Dakotans for Fair Elections campaign to fight proposed Amendment C as part of its ongoing Ballot Measure Rescue Campaign work. 

If passed, Amendment C would permanently change the South Dakota constitution to end majority rule for ballot measures, allowing a minority of just 41% of voters to block citizen-led ballot measures on many issues — including Medicaid expansion, which will be on the ballot in South Dakota in November regardless of whether Amendment C passes. 

Proponents of Amendment C have been transparent about the fact that its intent is to make passage of Medicaid expansion in South Dakota more difficult — although, if successful, Amendment C would make citizen-led initiatives on a range of issues more difficult to pass. Fairness Project has worked to successfully pass Medicaid expansion via the ballot initiative process in six states to date.

Ahead of Tuesday’s primary election, Fairness Project Executive Director Kelly Hall released the following statement:

“The results of today’s primary in South Dakota will tell us about the future of direct democracy in America. Voters have the opportunity to send a message to lawmakers in Pierre that, despite this blatant effort to disregard the will of the people, South Dakotans will maintain their right to decide what happens in their state and reject a system that is based on minority rule. 

“This is both a fight for direct democracy as well as a proxy battle over the expansion of Medicaid. Those who oppose Medicaid expansion are trying to change the rules of the game in order to get the outcome they want. That is simply unacceptable, and we’re committed to ensuring that South Dakotans can keep their right to make their own decisions at the ballot box about health care and many other issues.” 

South Dakota is the birthplace of ballot measures in the United States, and the process has worked well there for over 100 years to empower voters to make direct change at the ballot box. Attacks like this are exactly why Fairness Project launched the Ballot Measure Rescue Campaign, which is working to protect the ballot measure process itself across the country.

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