After heading to the polls to cast their votes, South Dakotans have passed two out of seven ballot issues during Tuesday’s election.
Constitutional Amendments O and P were the two select ballot concerns that will now become ratified and added to South Dakota’s state constitution. Both amendments deal with the state’s budgeting.
Amendment O changes the method of distributing funds from the state’s cement plant fund that was created in 2001. The previous law outlined $12 million to be transferred from the trust fund to the state’s general fund, but the new revision changes the yearly transfer to 4 percent in order to deter the fund from diminishing too quickly.
Amendment P now mandates that the state propose and pass a balanced budget on a yearly basis. The revision requires the governor to propose a balanced budget and then dictates legislators implement a balanced budget.
Elizabeth Smith, associate professor of political science at the University of South Dakota, said the passage of ballot issues is frequently low, no matter how important a particular ballot question may be.
“Only 39 percent of constitutional amendments pass,” Smith said. “The reason is because most people don’t read them, and when they read them, they don’t understand them and if they don’t understand them they say, ‘Well, if it was really a big problem, I would understand it, so I’m going to vote no.’ ”
Junior Mercedes Nelson said voting is extremely important and a lot of people do not vote and do nothing but complain about it instead.
“I feel like a lot of South Dakotans frown on change,” Nelson said about the results from South Dakota’s 2012 ballot issues.
Nelson also said she did not get the opportunity to vote even though she wanted to because her absentee ballot was never mailed to her.
Junior Aggie Stout said only two passages on the South Dakota ballot makes for a curious situation.
“It’s interesting for South Dakota to only have passed two issues on the ballot,” Stout said. “It possibly reflects that sometimes people are resistant to change.”
Smith further described passing Amendments O and P as “housekeeping amendments.”
“Most states have balanced budget amendments (like constitutional Amendment P) and there are very few states that don’t have them,” Smith said. “(Constitutional Amendment O) could very well take some pressure off the state budget.”