- South Dakota Budget & Policy Institute - http://www.sdbpi.org -

What are ballot questions?

Ballot measures or ballot propositions are proposals to enact new laws or constitutional amendments that are placed on the ballot for approval or rejection by the electorate.  There are several different kinds of ballot measures.1

[1]An initiative is a proposal of a new law or constitutional amendment that is placed on the ballot by petition, that is, by collecting signatures of a certain number of citizens.  Twenty-four states have the initiative process with 21 allowing initiatives to propose statutes or changes and 18 allowing initiatives to propose constitutional amendments. 

A referendum is a proposal to repeal a law that was previously enacted by the legislature, and that is placed on the ballot by citizen petition.  Most of the 24 states that permit referendums also permit initiatives. 

Graph by Initiative & Referendum Institute

To see a chart of state by state requirements for initiative petitions, click here [2].2 

In South Dakota, the Secretary of State website describes 2012 ballot question petition signature requirements3  as follows:

If initiated measures or referred laws are passed, they change South Dakota state statute, and can subsequently be amended or repealed by future legislatures. 


1Initiative and Referendum Institute at teh University of Southern California, http://www.iandrinstitute.org/Quick%20Fact%20-%20What%20is%20I&R.htm [7] 

2 http://www.iandrinstitute.org/New%20IRI%20Website%20Info/Drop%20Down%20Boxes/Requirements/Almanac%20-%20Signature%20and%20SS%20and%20GD%20Requirements.pdf [2]

3http://sdsos.gov/content/viewcontent.aspx?cat=elections&pg=/elections/upcomingelection_ballotquestionstatus2010SignatureReq.shtm [8]

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