Why do we need to gather so many signatures to have access to the ballot in South Dakota. Currently for these constitutional amendments we need to gather 50,000+ signatures, names, and addresses of verified registered voters to reach the amount to satisfy the 10% of the voting electorate for amendments called for in
2-1-1. Initiative petitions–Number of signatures required. All measures proposed by initiative shall be presented by petition. The petition shall be signed by not less than five percent of the qualified electors of the state.
Source: SDC 1939, § 55.0401; SL 1957, ch 278, § 1; SL 1976, ch 105, § 76; SL 1978, ch 19, § 1; SL 1989, ch 23, § 1.
Was it always like this? What were the requirements in 1890 when the 10% was instituted? Well that year there were a total of 77,562 votes cast at the governors election. So to get it on the ballot with a constitutional amendment when we became a state you would need 7,756 signatures. To get an initiated measure on the ballot would require 5% so 3,878 signatures. Those numbers are more possible and why is it so much more now when the state really hasn’t grown? The population in 1890 was 348,600 and in 2016 it was 869,600.
The thing is having more people doesn’t make it any easier to get 1,000 signatures or 8,000. The difficulty remains approximately the same to get each signature and is actually considerably harder since signers now have to provide their address and have to be registered to vote there.