The 2020 Ballot measures are already coming in. But with the GOP having had a successful cycle opposing ballot measures in 2018, you might argue that the measure sponsors have a tougher hill to climb.
In years past, Democrats have gone all in on ballot measures to the point at times of abandoning candidate efforts in favor of circulating petitions, while the Republican Party has chosen to adopt positions by platform and resolution, or when warranted, helping to fund outside efforts fighting ballot measures.
In 2018, the State Republican Party shifted gears in opposing ballot measures, and instead of acting in a support role, the party started direct ballot measure opposition early, and sustained a strong effort throughout the election cycle.
In October of 2017, with several ballot measures already in circulation, the State GOP started their campaign by launching a social media effort encouraging people to “Don’t sign on the line:”
… South Dakota GOP Chairman Dan Lederman launched the party’s education effort titled “Don’t sign on the Line” on social media this week.
Chairman Dan Lederman noted that “the effort is about educating voters to make sure understand what they’re signing. All too often, out-of-state organizations have thrown millions of dollars into signature collection, bringing in hired guns from out of state to circulate petitions who never establish an actual residency here, despite the requirements of the law.”
“The initiative and referendum process was established in South Dakota to allow a government that’s more responsive to its citizens,” Lederman said. “Not for whatever D.C. or California special interest group who could write the biggest check and send in armies for a slick, street-corner sell.”
Following this campaign, four ballot measures were submitted which after review by the Secretary of State failed to gather sufficient signatures to appear on the ballot; open primaries, redistricting, voting by mail, and legalizing marijuana for medical use. Other measures touted by liberal groups and circulated were not submitted because they failed to gather enough signatures for sponsors to go through the motions included physician assisted suicide, and two recreational marijuana measures, which all fell by the wayside.
Once this portion of the GOP’s “Don’t sign on the Line” campaign was over, the party moved towards picking particular ballot measure targets for the fall, eventually settling on three measures which stood against aspects of the party platform, and for which hearings were held among it’s membership.
Amendment W creating a 4th branch of Government in the constitution was opposed. Amendment X raising the bar for constitutional amendments was supported. And Initiated Measure 25 which increased taxes on tobacco was opposed.
From the State GOP Convention forward, the party beat the drum on these issues as part of their election year activities.
In addition to including information as part of Social Media outreach, the most overt adoption of these positions was as part of the party’s slate card, which it was distributing anywhere between 50,000 to 100,000 copies at all county fairs, the State Fair, Republican offices, door to door and other events. (Pictured at left)
When the campaign moved into September, the same message against these ballot measures also appeared in general slate mailers sent to Republican households.
The GOP followed up the slate mailers with a specific ballot measure without the slate of candidates, strictly highlighting the party’s position on the three ballot measures, and finally once again with a final piece which mocked up a ballot for Republican voters letting them know what the GOP Position was.
The end result was that the two measures the GOP urged a “No” vote on, Amendment W, and Initiated Measure 25, both failed by margins of 10%.
Amendment X, which the GOP urged support for, and would have changed the voting on how constitutional measures were passed failed by a margin of 8%.
While missing one of the three measures, the GOP’s opposition to the two other issues proved to be a worthwhile exercise on the measures which it could clearly identify with; opposition to higher taxes, and bigger government, with the other proving a little more murky.
At the least, coming off of the 2018 election, the Republican Party has been able to forge a blueprint for handling ballot measures moving forward.
Which might be a good thing, as in reviewing the Secretary of State’s website, the GOP may already have some issues for it’s membership to sink their teeth into in 2020.
Another legalized pot measure is being proposed. Extreme Libertarian measures which would legalize everything including pipe bombs and prostitution have been submitted for circulation. We’re also seeing a ballot measure restricting the information being provided to voters in the initiative and referendum process and rolling back ballot measure reforms.
And most recently a measure has been proposed which expands gambling in South Dakota by adding sports betting to the menu.
With fodder like that, the GOP has ample opportunity to galvanize its troops.
Can “Don’t sign on the Line 2020” be far from launching? Watch your social media.