South Dakotans Beat Back Republican Effort to Sabotage Medicaid Expansion Vote

South Dakotans at Tuesday resoundingly defeated a Republican-authored constitutional amendment that would have raised the threshold for passage of most ballot initiatives from a simple majority to 60%, an effort motivated by GOP lawmakers’ desire to head off a Medicaid expansion vote set for November.

Voters rejected the proposal, known as Amendment C, by a margin of 67.4% to 32.6%, dealing a decisive blow to state-level Republicans’ latest attempt To weaken the ballot initiative process.

“The people of South Dakota have preserved their right to use direct democracy,” said Kelly Hall, executive director at the Fairness Project, which was a national group that helped defeat the South Dakota Amendment. “This victory will benefit tens of thousands of South Dakotans who will choose to use the ballot measure process to increase access to healthcare for their families and neighbors, raise wages, and more policies that improve lives.”

“We look forward to what’s next in South Dakota: an aggressive campaign to expand Medicaid in the state,” Hall added.

If passed, Amendment C would have required a 60% supermajority to approve any voter-initiated referendum that would “increase taxes or fees or that would require the state to appropriate $10 million or more in the first five fiscal years.” The proposal was endorsed by South Dakota’s Republican Gov. Kristi Noem, the powerful Koch networkWhich? spent big Mailers and ads in support of Amendment C

“Amendment C is a political ploy that would empower special interests, lobbyists, and politicians at the expense of South Dakota voters,” South Dakotans for Fair Elections said ahead of Tuesday’s vote. “If you care about secure and fair elections, vote no on C.”

Republican sponsors and supporters readily admitted Their rapid campaign to get Amendment C on their primary election ballot was at least partly fueled by opposition to Medicaid referendum, which would make South Dakota seventh state since 2017 that has approved an expansion of the healthcare system through the voter initiative process.

Only Idaho’s 2018 Medicaid expansion initiative received more than 60% This is a sign that Amendment C would have likely spelled doom in the South Dakota referendum.

As Daniel Nichanian said Bolts noted late Tuesday, “GOP lawmakers in South Dakota were not able to increase the threshold of passage for initiatives on their own, without consulting voters, since the change would have affected the state constitution.”

“And South Dakotans’ refusal to go along with this stands out as reaffirming the state’s historical legacy,” Nichanian observed. “South Dakota was the first in the nation to adopt a process for citizens to initiate ballot measures. In 1898, voters approved a constitutional amendment to that effect that was pushed by local populist leaders — a legacy that voters reaffirmed on Tuesday.”