SB 88 : No More Oats For Votes

When I first saw Senate Bill 88 earlier this week there wasn’t much to it other that it changed the wording to include terminology like “himself or herself” instead of just “himself”.  Though, I did get a chuckle out of it when I was thinking to myself, “I wonder which ‘her‘ they had in mind?”

Well, today the bill got a little more interesting as Secretary of State Gant gave testimony in front of the Senate State Affairs Committee in favor of strengthening the law to help eliminate voter fraud and bribery.

Gant said:

This last election highlighted the need for the legislature to take a hard look at our existing laws on voter bribery, to remove any ambiguities, and to strengthen the penalties. Making the law more clear should help better determine what activities are allowable, and which ones constitute a criminal act.


As South Dakota?s chief election official, I can assure you that we don’t need to be fighting the battle every election over whether having food at a political event is a violation and whether busing people to a polling place after feeding them is not. We needed clarity in our law, and we need certainty of action. We owe that duty to the voters of South Dakota.

Many of the comments on this site had hoped that the legislature would clarify this issue, and it looks like we may now be seeing that.

At today’s committee hearing, two amendments were added to the bill to give it some extra teeth.
The first outlaws offering food at an event that offers same day voting.
The second increases the current violation from a Class 2 misdemeanor  to a Class 1 misdemeanor.

I think that this amended bill takes a nice step towards clarifying the issue.  Candidates would still be allowed to hold “meet the candidate”-style events where they offer coffee and snacks, or even a meal.  They just can’t  encourage a person to vote that same day.


27 Replies to “SB 88 : No More Oats For Votes”

  1. Name

    My opinion of this whole issue was that it was a bunch of crap. Both political parties have food at early vote rallies and often drive people to vote after them. If one person apparently drives someone down to vote who apparently ordered a cup of coffee or eaten a donut at the event it apparently is a big deal. I’ve been to a lot of early vote rallies and they often have food and the people there are always willing to help someone vote. It’s part of being a good American to help someone vote.

    I think this aswell as the notary issue in 2004 are a way for the opposite political party to try and make hay out of nit picking.

    That said I’m glad Noem won and I’m glad the legislature will put this issue to rest.

  2. springer

    I think this should have been evident when the little ladies weren’t allowed to offer pie at I think it was Wasta or something and now we have Pie Day in Pierre.

    This bill should go farther though because of a problem that a certain city is having at this time. There is a bond issue for a new gym and renovated high school, and those in charge of the vote (the school) are offering early voting at school events like basketball games, concerts, etc in the very building that is the object of the vote and in a building full of the normal school stuff which is itself an incentive to vote for the bond issue. This might be legal but it is not ethical. Also having the school in charge of all voting, having voting at the school building, and having ballots counted by one very partisan side to the vote should also be changed. The auditor IMO should be in charge of all such elections, as this would be a disinterested party and not partisan. I would like to see these amendments added once the bill gets to the floor for debate.

      1. Troy Jones


        As someone who has written here, there comment modification process is a pain (I deleted where the pain is commonly mentioned for fear of it being caught in the filter). If you are the author, it is your responsibility to monitor comments. It is so hard to set the “screen” to a level which allows legitimate comments and catches the spam. So basically, while comments are going on, you have to virtually monitor the “pending comments” on a real time basis. If you step away from your computer for an hour, it is possible to have dozens of “pending comments” most of which are spam but a few are legitimate.

        Your name or commentary using a slang can catch your comment. Using the same word too many times (which is cumbersome because if you are talking about an issue you might use the word alot) can catch your comment. Or use a string of words that are commonly in spam (i.e “I am a Nigerian banker and have a million rubles I need to convert into dollars) can catch your comment.

        If your comment gets caught in spam, just assume the author has stepped away from the computer. Part of the problem is related to the SDWC popularity. Trust me, the author would rather have a softer filter because they wouldn’t have to monitor the “pending comments” so much. But, you’d complain about all the spam that gets through.

  3. Duh

    It was a big deal on the reservations because the native americans are a downtrodden people susceptable to influence and baiting. It was a big deal because 90%+ of the reservations vote democrat and the dems used food as bait and the attendees knew they would be told to vote and were told that after the feed “the attendees will board the bus where they will be taken to the old IHS hospital to vote.” This is directly off the flyer put out by the dems.

  4. Spencer

    In all fairness the food only motivated voters to go to the Hot Springs early voting site. It took a number of hired goons milling around within the vicinity of voters in the process of early voting to seal the deal.

  5. Name

    Food works for a lot of different groups of people. I wonder if the CR’s or College Dems have ever had an early vote rally with food?

    Give me a break. If this was a real story Jackley and Johnson would have done something. Since charges weren’t filed this turned out to be an issue that was fiction.

  6. Name

    This story was the day I learned that a political opperatives job isn’t only to turnout the vote but also surpress the other sides. If this was going on in Watertown or Sioux Falls or on a college campus it wouldn’t have been a big deal.

    1. Name

      Come on down for our early vote rally we’ll have food and beverage to kick off our event and then we’ll all go down and vote! It will be a great time!

  7. Name

    As a Democrat I will be attending all GOP early vote rallies from now on and if I see as much as a donut there I will be taking pictures and calling the SOS office. This is so stupid. The Republicans in Pierre don’t realize that they are hurting themselves too (Remember the RC Journal article last fall about Thune’s rallies in 04). Oh well I guess it is only bribery when the Dems do it.

  8. Duh

    NAME: Those rallies were held in approximately April before voting was even possible. I’ve NEVER heard of one GOP rally that was handled remotely like SHS and her thugs. SHS’s rallies were held during voting time and busses were lined up to take them where “they WILL vote”. There is a world of difference between having rallies with mainstream members of society, most of which are educated, employed and drive themselves to the rallies compared to rallies with poverty stricken reservation residents with very little or no education who have been bred by the Dems that they are worthless and that they need the Dems to keep the handouts coming.

  9. Doug Wiken

    I wonder if the food dumped into the legislative session by interest groups almost always before, after, during voting has caused legislators to vote one way or another. Until they ban that, they are on thin ice and hypocrisy regarding food at voter rallies.

    I would think any Native Americans hearing about this legislation and knowing that the GOP apparently thinks their vote can be bought for a hotdog and a few beans would be so furious and insulted as to never vote for a Republican for the rest of their lives.

    Is the GOP policy to keep the poor poor and poorer and then use their lousy economic condition as the basis for preventing the non-influential from even getting a free sandwich?

    But, were it up to me, legislators and government officials wouldn’t be allowed so much as a cup of coffee paid for by lobbyists or constituents and all legislative races would allow only public funding as campaign money source.

    1. Les

      Doug, today we see eye to eye! All of the above!

      I, as well as many others, were hoping to see our legislature go to work on the most serious of matters, our economically challenged budget.

      Though I thought Steph was careless, this is not the time for trivial pursuit.

  10. Les

    In politics, having certain people supporting you can be a negative Springer.

    That of which you are referring to is an example. Thank goodness Moses doesn’t appear to support our values.

  11. Duh

    Doug: “I would think any Native Americans hearing about this legislation and knowing that the GOP apparently thinks their vote can be bought for a hotdog and a few beans would be so furious and insulted as to never vote for a Republican for the rest of their lives.”

    The fact is, from what I’ve seen and how the dems have convinced the reservations that they are the only party that will give them stuff, no questions asked. Therefore, the risk that the natives will vote for the host is real. Very Real. Your’e talking about about the the top 3 poorest counties and 5 of the 10 poorest in the entire country. When dems come, they talk about endless entitlements, free programs, money with no end in sight, then shove chili down their throats. That is undue influence, pure and simple. It may be so bad that they don’t even know when someone is trying to protect them from unethical conduct.

  12. yoyoyoyoyo

    I really dont understand why this is an issue…you can’t really bribe anyones vote because there is no accountability…i could give someone $1000 to vote a certain way, but there is no way to ever know which way they voted. Besides, they dont make it a conidition of voting a certain way to get that hot dog…

    Why dont the republicans bus anybody to the polls on the reservations?

  13. Ghost Repeater

    Your headline is misleading. No “more” oats for votes? No “oats for votes” were proven or even charged.

    Duh’s blatantly racist note above that “native americans are a downtrodden people susceptable to influence and baiting” is typical of the attitudes pushing this non-issue.

  14. Duh

    Casper: “Duh?s blatantly racist note above that ?native americans are a downtrodden people susceptable to influence and baiting? is typical of the attitudes pushing this non-issue.”

    That’s crap. I’m stating the truth and showing the abuses that are thrust upon these people. Proponents of Demo’s bait and switch in the form of the Chili Feeds are testamount to the fact that the demos try to protrait the native amercians as a competent people who can make up their owns minds and that the natives cannot be unduly influenced. All to the demo’s benefit. I’m calling a spade a spade. You merely mischaracterize their status as a means to secure votes. If anyone is a racist, it’s you and other pinheads who use and abuse the native americans in order to keep your hack liberal candidates in office.

  15. Duh

    Just because the heads of power claimed that no violation of election laws occurred, doesn’t mean that it wasn’t unethical or that those activites shouldn’t be illegal. Gant saw this in his election bills currently being debated.

  16. yoyoyoyoyo

    so duh, what your saying is that if the GOP came and did a steak feed to beat out the chili feed, that they would take the native vote? Do you really think native americans are incompetent people who cant make up their own minds? Im having a hard time reading into anything else in your statement…

  17. Duh

    What I am saying is that, on the average, the native americans are more susceptible to undue influence than the average american. They are the poorest, most undereducated, self-defiling (drug, alcohol abuse) residents of this state. It is that simple and obvious. They have been molded by the dems with empty promises of “free everything” with election time visits by the responsible elected officials. Who knows beside chili feeds what is actually presented, stated to them at those event, i.e. “The GOP is horrible, they want you all to suffer, etc.” The only way to prevent these possible acts of undue influence is to prevent the event from happening at all. It cuts both ways, I don’t think ANY candidate should be having food get togethers when the polls are open.


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