South Dakota put abortion bans on the ballot several times, and each time the initiative was soundly rejected by voters:

In 2006, lawmakers passed a bill banning almost all abortions, which Gov. Mike Rounds signed. It set off a brutal campaign that became the dominant issue in a busy election year that featured a governor’s race and 10 other ballot issues. Voters rejected the ban by 56% to 44%.

Abortion opponents decided to make another run in 2008, collecting enough signatures to return abortion to the ballot. The key difference between the two measures was that the 2008 effort included exceptions for rape and the mother’s health. Opponents figured the lack of exceptions in 2006 had doomed their efforts.

They were wrong. The 2008 vote was nearly identical to 2006, with 55% rejecting the measure.

Despite these votes, the South Dakota government went ahead and made abortion illegal. 

Does this sound familiar?  Perhaps you recall the following:

South Dakota has voted to legalize marijuana use for adults. 

Constitutional Amendment A, which passed with 53.4% of the vote, “legalizes the possession, transportation, use, and distribution of marijuana and marijuana paraphernalia by people who are 21 or older.”

The legalization was to take effect in 2021, but it never happened.  The amendment was rejected by the South Dakota Supreme Court on a minor technicality.  You might think that’s no big problem.  They can vote again on a cleaner initiative in 2022.  But the anti-democratic elements in South Dakota are unwilling to give up so easily:

South Dakota voters will decide later this year whether to become the 20th state in the nation to legalize marijuana for recreational use, after supporters filed thousands of signatures with state elections officials earlier this month.

But five months before Election Day, it’s not clear exactly what share of the vote supporters must rally in order to win approval.

That’s because those same voters head to the polls next week in a primary election that could rewrite the rules just ahead of November’s vote. On Tuesday, voters will decide whether to approve Amendment C, a proposed change to the state’s constitution that would require most ballot measures to win 60 percent of the vote in order to pass, rather than a simple majority.

Fortunately, Amendment C was defeated by a margin of more than 2 to 1.  It will be interesting to see what tricks the South Dakota government tries next after the pot referendum once again passes this November.

The cynical side of me suspects that neither the left nor the right favors democracy.  The left tries to thwart the will of the people by having unelected bureaucrats and judges make the rules.  The right tries to make it harder to vote, contests elections results, and gerrymanders districts so that 45% of Americans can rule over the other 55%.

People care more about getting their preferred result than having a democratic process.

PS.  Think about the fact that South Dakota is one of the most conservative states in the union, and yet even there voters reject bans on pot and abortion. Just imagine a nationwide vote on these issues.  (BTW, I’m not suggesting we have national referenda, just commenting on how out of line our politics is from public opinion.)