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History & Past South Dakota Ballot Questions


South Dakota has the distinction of being the first state in the Union to provide for popular initiative and referendum for enacting and rejecting legislation. This was accomplished by constitutional amendment approved in 1898. These two forms of direct legislation, first used in 1908, rest on the theory that since the legislature may not always adequately represent them, the people should be able to pass laws they desire and nullify laws they oppose.

In 1972 the state constitution was amended to allow constitutional changes by initiative as well.

In 1988 the state's voters changed the state constitution to eliminate a requirement that an initiative be submitted to the legislature for approval before placement on the ballot.

Past South Dakota Ballot Questions

Past South Dakota ballot question titles and election returns from 1890-2022