What happens if Initiated Measure 24 passes

RAPID CITY, S.D. – As voters prepare to go to the polls this midterm election cycle, one of the ballot questions that hasn’t had much publicity is Initiated Measure 24. It’s a measure that Attorney General Marty Jackley says may be ruled unconstitutional.

Should IM-24 be passed, it would ban out-of-state organizations and nonresidents from making contributions in support of statewide ballot campaigns. The measure is designed to reduce the influence of out-of-state interests on South Dakota politics. According to one of the main supporters of the initiative, Gov. Dennis Daugaard, $9.6 million was spent on ballot measures in 2016, and 97 percent of that money was from out-of-state. He writes, “That year, out-of-state interests used South Dakota’s low signature requirements and cheap media markets as a testing ground for their ideas. They have turned our state founders’ intent completely on its head.”

If passed Tuesday, IM-24 would require that the South Dakota secretary of state investigate any alleged violations of the measure and impose a civil penalty on ballot committees that receive support from out-of-state funders. That penalty would be double whatever the original out-of-state contribution was. The penalty money collected would then be placed in the state general fund.

While advocates of the initiative believe it will protect South Dakota politics from outside interests, opponents of IM-24 point out that it is an unconstitutional violation of free speech. According to them, financial contributions are an expression of free speech.

Additionally, out-of-state entities that register with the secretary of state for four years would still be able to make contributions, rendering the measure ineffective in these circumstances.

Critics of IM-24 argue that this would favor wealthy donors who have the resources to organize and register long-term with the secretary of state and hurt smaller grassroots efforts to show support for ballot measures they care about.

Supporters of IM-24 counter that the four-year exception is intended to give outside entities room to prove that they have substantive and lasting interests in the state. According to Daugaard, “They don’t have kids in our schools, they don’t attend our churches, and you won’t see them at the football game this weekend. That’s because they don’t live here. Let’s limit their involvement unless they can demonstrate either residency or a legitimate business interest in South Dakota.”

Even if voters pass Initiated Measure 24 in the midterm elections Tuesday, the attorney general has stated that it is likely to be challenged in the courts as unconstitutional. This would potentially render it inoperable, and according to some, simply be a waste of taxpayer dollars as it makes its way through court proceedings.

Initiated Measure 24

Prohibits contributions to ballot question committees by non-South Dakota residents or entities.

  • Yes Winner 55.5%
    174,912
  • No   44.5%
    140,149
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