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Attorney General Jason R. Ravnsborg

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2010 Election Early Voting Review


PIERRE, S.D. - Attorney General Marty J. Jackley announces that the State has completed its review of the various complaints about offering of food at election events.   The complaints have been submitted by both Republican and Democrat political parties, local law enforcement and private citizens. The alleged conduct further included activities both on and off reservation. 
Similar concerns were raised in 1996 and 1998 elections, and were addressed with a cautionary letter by then United States Attorney Karen Schreier and Attorney General Mark Barnett. On October 14, 2010, United States Attorney Brendan Johnson and South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley issued to both political parties a similar joint cautionary letter that adopted their predecessors’ legal analysis and set forth the applicable state and federal law.
Both federal and state law preclude a person, political party or any other entity to offer any item of value in exchange for or to induce voting. Based upon the information received to date, it is the decision of the Attorney General’s Office that it does not have jurisdiction over a prosecutable state offense. While the conduct at issue may well cross ethical boundaries, that determination is for the voters and not a prosecutor that must prove all elements of a statutory violation beyond a reasonable doubt to a unanimous jury.  To the extent there is a desire to more specifically address or criminalize a particular conduct in relation to voting, that is within the province of our legislature.  Parties concerned may also avail themselves to potential civil redress. 
Absent the receipt of additional information, there will be no further action from the Attorney General’s Office on these matters. 
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:     Wednesday, November 10, 2010
CONTACT: Paige Wilbur, (605) 773-3215