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State capitol of South Dakota
State capitol of South Dakota

South Dakota’s present state constitution was adopted in 1889, and has been amended many times. Amendments may be proposed by the state legislature, by initiative, or by a constitutional convention. In order to be adopted, a proposed amendment must be placed on the ballot in a regular state-wide election and then be approved by a majority of the citizens voting on the proposal.

Executive power


The governor, who is the state’s chief executive, is elected for a four-year term and may serve no more than two terms consecutively. The governor is responsible for the preparation of the state budget and has the power to veto proposed legislation or individual items of appropriations measures. However, the state legislature can override the governor’s vetoes by a two-thirds vote of the legislators elected to membership in each house. The governor also appoints many of the state’s major administrative officials.

State government officials other than the governor who are elected are the lieutenant governor, secretary of state, attorney general, treasurer, auditor, and commissioner of school and public lands. All are elected for four-year terms. The lieutenant governor, like the governor, may serve no more than two terms consecutively.

Legislative power


The state legislature of South Dakota consists of a Senate of 35 members and a House of Representatives of 70 members. All state legislators are elected for two-year terms. Regular sessions of the legislature are convened annually in January. Regular sessions are limited to 45 legislative days in odd years and 30 legislative days in even years. The governor may also call special sessions.

Supreme Court


South Dakota’s highest court, the Supreme Court, is made up of five judges elected on nonpartisan ballots for eight-year terms. The chief justice is chosen by a majority of the members of the court for four-year renewable terms. The next highest courts are the circuit courts, whose judges are elected on nonpartisan ballots for eight-year terms. Lower courts include county courts and municipal courts.

There are 66 counties in South Dakota. They include the three unorganized counties of Shannon, Todd, and Washabaugh, which are taken up by Native American reservations. The main governing body in each organized county is a board of commissioners, the members of which are elected for four-year terms.

Other elected county officers include the auditor, treasurer, register of deeds, states attorney, and sheriff. All are elected for staggered four-year terms. There are more than 300 municipalities in South Dakota. Most of them have the mayor and council form of government.

South Dakota elects two U.S. senators. The state elects one member to the House of Representatives and casts three electoral votes in Presidential elections. "South Dakota" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia

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