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Local residents in June signed petitions to get medical marijuana on the November 2016 ballot. The South Dakota Republican Party is urging state residents to research ballot measures first before signing petitions to put initiatives on the 2018 ballot.

Journal file

SIOUX FALLS | The South Dakota Republican Party is urging state residents to research ballot measures first before signing petitions to put initiatives on the 2018 ballot.

The party wants voters to understand what they're signing, Chairman Dan Lederman said Wednesday. Ballot measure supporters are out collecting thousands of signatures ahead of the Nov. 6, 2017, deadline for petitions to be submitted to the secretary of state's office.

The state's dominant political party is advising people approached by a petition carrier to hold off on signing until they study the measure and verify the circulator has South Dakota identification. The GOP wrote on its "Don't Sign on the Line" Facebook page that the educational initiative comes because South Dakota's ballot is "continually being used as a mad scientist's laboratory."

"The system was set up so that real South Dakotans could address real problems, and that's not what's happening," Lederman said.

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The 2016 election season featured 10 ballot questions and more than $10 million from out-of-state sources. Republican officials have frequently complained about out-of-state interests experimenting with South Dakota's laws and constitution and have discussed changes to the state's ballot question system.

More than 10 initiatives proposed for 2018 have been approved to circulate. Initiated measures need nearly 14,000 valid signatures, while constitutional amendments require almost 28,000 names.

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