Are voter feeds illegal?

We published a story today about Democratic feeds and voter rallies on American Indian reservations. Click here for the story.

Today, the Republican Party followed up with this news release:

State GOP Calls for Full Investigation Into Voter Fraud

— Asks US Attorney and Attorney General to Investigate and Stop Illegal Voting

PIERRE – South Dakota Republican Party Chairman Bob Gray today called for a complete investigation of the recent reports that the South Dakota Democratic Party is offering ‘food for votes’ in several locations throughout South Dakota.

“Over 10 years ago, United States Attorney Karen Schreier and South Dakota Attorney General Mark Barnett told South Dakota Democratic Party officials that this practice is indeed illegal. While the candidates have changed, the law hasn’t,” Gray said.  “Stephanie Herseth Sandlin should know better.  In her desperation to hold onto her seat, she’s pulling out all the old tricks.”

Attorneys, on behalf of the South Dakota Republican Party, mailed letters today to States’ Attorneys in Shannon, Lyman, and Buffalo Counties; Attorney General Marty Jackley; and United States Attorney Brendan Johnson asking for an investigation into this food-for-votes scheme.

“The old practice of offering food or cash for people to vote must end,” Gray said.  “Every South Dakota adult has the right and responsibility to vote, but nobody ought to be paying or feeding anyone to do so.  South Dakotans deserve fair and honest elections that are free from corruption and vote buying.”

6 thoughts on “Are voter feeds illegal?

  1. Here is the trouble with our political parties- the democrats want to institutionalize poverty, the republicans want to ignore it- neither works. For all we know this may be the Indian socio-cultural way of gathering and honoring and we need to look at that not take that away from a people who have had so much taken away from them- this does not warrant so much negative attention- I would suggest the republicans find another way to help build community rather than “just say no”

    • replying to ron fuchs:

      For all we know this may be the Indian socio-cultural way of gathering and honoring…

      It is.

      Perception is everything. One view is that the Democrats are trying to buy votes. An alternate view is that the Democrats recognize Native American customs, are aware that Native Americans make up a significant percent of the SD population, have positions on issues that affect Native Americans on their campaign websites, visit the reservations, and attend Native American Day celebrations.

      In the end, I think Native American voters are intelligent enough to vote their choice, and that they are much more likely to be influenced by what candidates do than someone sharing a plate of food.

    • Early voting had started. The offices had closed for the day but “early voting” includes mailed in ballots (which can be mailed day or night) so I don’t see a difference between the Democratic and Republican events.

  2. I remember a big bean and burger feed at the Mason’s hall here in Mitchell when Daschle was campaigning in ’04, at which point early voting was well under way. I don’t think that was wrong, and I don’t recall any objections. I know, too, that in the past voter registration cards have been made available at “love feasts” at the Methodist church. I don’t that’s wrong, either.
    The sudden interest and outrage in reservation feeds seems odd, when it’s something that’s gone on for years without complaint. Friends of mine who know Indian Country better than I have always remarked on the big dinners that are part of the culture there.
    Now if someone is claiming that this is a vote-buying quid pro quo, I would ask: why now, at this moment? why is this different from analogous situations with whites? and why are we starting our crusade with the poorest and most marginalized and disenfranchised rather than, say, big ag or Citigroup? The absence of perspective here seems fishy.
    Let’s remember, too, that this six-week period of early voting was itself a concession tossed to Democrats when the GOP began their photo ID requirements and obsession with so-called “voter fraud” in the wake of the ’02 senate election. We’re still feeling echoes of the last time a close election was blamed on Indians!

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