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Is the phone ringing? It might be a ballot measure campaign

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) -- Organizers of a ballot measure to publicly fund political candidates are working the phones, aiming to win over 2,500 undecided voters a day even as opponents also make calls. Events in Sioux Falls and around the state o...

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) - Organizers of a ballot measure to publicly fund political candidates are working the phones, aiming to win over 2,500 undecided voters a day even as opponents also make calls. Events in Sioux Falls and around the state offer candidates their final chance to pitch voters.

It's the homestretch to Election Day, when South Dakota will decide on 10 ballot measures, not to mention candidates for president, U.S. House and Senate, the Public Utilities Commission and state legislative seats.

"We'll call through middle of the afternoon Tuesday for sure," said Ben Lee, chairman of a group fighting against the public campaign finance measure, which would allow voters to tap a state fund to send two $50 credits to participating political candidates, tighten campaign finance and lobbying laws and create an ethics commission.

The opposition campaign is building on 140,000 voter contacts foes have already made. Measure supporters have door-knocking planned on top of the phone calls aimed at undecided voters, campaign manager Richard Carlbom said.

This election cycle, South Dakota's ballot measure campaigns have been the races to watch since the Democratic challengers to Sen. John Thune and Rep. Kristi Noem have struggled to make headway against the Republican incumbents. GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump is heavily favored to carry the state.

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Late-breaking contributions in some races could help shift opinion. The South Dakota Republican Party on Thursday announced a donation of $70,000 to a group opposing a ballot measure that would remove candidates' party affiliations from primary and general election ballots.

Since late May, a group supporting the amendment has taken in over $1.2 million in cash and in-kind contributions, including about $820,000 in cash from the New York nonprofit Open Primaries. In recent days, the campaign has reported more donations, including $20,000 from Republican supporter Joe Kirby.

There have been teams of canvassers in 10 communities over the past week, according to the campaign.

A Georgia-based car title lender made a contribution reported Tuesday of $400,000 toward opposing a ballot measure that would cap short-term loan interest rates. Federal Communications Commission records show the group is airing more than 120 ad spots across KELO-TV, KSFY-TV and KDLT-TV.

The organization has also sponsored mail advertising attacking the rate cap, while a different payday lending chain put over $75,000 into the race this week.

Supporters of the measure that would limit interest charged by businesses such as payday, auto title and installment lenders licensed in South Dakota to 36 percent annually have been immensely outfunded. They've made a modest radio ad buy and have a prayer walk planned for Sunday in Sioux Falls, overall relying on volunteers and church denominations across the state.

"I expect it will be very important to our finish line for pastors to go out and encourage people to vote their conscience and their values on Tuesday," said pastor Steve Hickey, a former Republican lawmaker supporting the measure, according to the Argus Leader.

The South Dakota Democratic Party is holding a get-out-the-vote rally Sunday in Sioux Falls with U.S. Senate Candidate Jay Williams and U.S. House Candidate Paula Hawks. Hawks also has events scheduled in Hartford and Oacoma.

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"Every single vote matters. I won my last election by seven votes," Hawks, a state representative, told a Democratic forum Thursday evening in Sioux Falls.

Incumbent Noem recently returned from a stint west river and said she may go hunting on Election Day before heading to Sioux Falls. Thune said he's been running a "pick-up truck tour" visiting smaller communities and rural areas and is scheduled to hit Rapid City on Monday.

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