UPDATE: Did the Slaughterhouse’s confusing ballot language contribute to its failure?

UPDATE: I wanted to clarify something, I think that well over 90% of voters DID know what they were voting on, but there is always those stragglers that don’t research the ballot before they vote and make a decision in the ballot box without knowing the context. I do believe a small number of voters were confused. How do you go from polling 78% this summer to losing this fall? Before the opposition gained steam the only ads we were seeing were for vote YES, then suddenly every ad a month before the election were vote NO and vote YES, constantly, which added to the confusion. I was personally happy with the results.

Unless we are willing to make a concerted effort to close ALL packing plants in town, this really seemed like they were picking on Wholestone. I still think this ends up in court, but the biggest failure was our city council not acting on this in January or February. If we still had conditional use permitting, we could have required WF to follow a higher standard (especially when it comes to water and waste water). I’m a huge believer in the initiative and petition process, but only after all government solutions were exhausted, the city didn’t lift a finger and forced an expensive election that could have been avoided.

I knew the Rec MJ decision was going to be close, however it turned out, but it would be decisive. I can’t say that about the slaughterhouse vote. While I did vote ‘NO’ and fully agreed that if a developer or business follows the rules set in place when it comes to property and property rights they deserve to move forward. I also think there was a lot of games played along the way on both sides that would have made it hard to stop this development (including the inaction of the city council when it comes to zoning). Either way, this will still end up in court.

What I do scratch my head about is if the ballot language contributed to the confusing outcome? How is it that something can be polling 60-70% then fail on election day? Just look at polling for Medicare, Rec MJ and Noem, all polls were almost spot on (though Noem did do a lot better than expected).

Think about it. If someone tells you to vote ‘NO’ you would assume that means ‘NO’ to new slaughterhouses and a ‘YES’ vote means ‘YES’ to new slaughterhouses. Well guess what? It is vice versa.

I’m not even sure how you would clear this up, you would almost need to do an exit poll to see how people voted and how they felt. This is impossible at this point.

We may never know.

I did know who Kameron Nelson was, and that is why I voted for him. District 10 is the only place in the state where the magic happened (and District 15). I actually was let in on the ground game this summer of what Democratic District 10 candidates were doing to win that district, and they had a good game, the results don’t surprise me a bit. There was also a rumor swirling that John Mogen and Tom Sutton were personally recruited by Noem to be placeholders in District 10 so she could appoint someone if they won.

I live in an Oasis. Now where can I get some good black market weed? Asking for a friend 🙂

Speaking of the evil weed. I see the opposition’s game of ‘what about the children’ worked, and once again, Mayor TenHaken set a precedent, now influencing ballot measures and questions. I still have a glimmer of hope that peeps from the IM 27 campaign will file ethics and campaign rule complaints against those peddling lies about the measure.


#1 D@ily Spin on 11.09.22 at 8:39 pm

The same vote confusion was used for the events center. The question was do you want an events center at the convention center or downtown? Voters answered yes to the convention center assuming it meant that IF THERE IS TO BE AN EVENTS CENTER, it should be at the convention center. The city assumed voters said YES to an events center when only a potential location was decided. Voters must learn that policy votes are like buying a used car. What you thought you signed for is hardly what you get.

Wholestone has grounds for a lawsuit. However, I’m hoping they’ll realize it will be better to locate neighboring and not inside city limits. The city would be constant aggravation requiring frequent trips to city hall peeling off 100’s. This operation requires lots of water and the city plant is obsolete. Other parts of either county have plenty of their own high quality water.

#2 Corn Dogger on 11.09.22 at 9:43 pm

If the voter had basic reading skills the measure was clearly described on the ballot.
I feel bad for the millionaire from Poet who funded the whole “anti” movement because his mansion is within 2 miles of the site. He is mega rich and shouldn’t have to deal with existing city ordinance and zoning rules! Money talks!
I hope he starts a Gofundme so I contribute!! I slept like crap last night knowing his next pool party might be ruined cause there is a slaughterhouse a couple of miles away…

#3 The Guy From Guernsey on 11.09.22 at 11:06 pm

If ballot language was a factor, only Jeff Broin and those providing him counsel and guidance are to blame.

#4 The Guy From Guernsey on 11.09.22 at 11:23 pm

As details of the finances of Smart Growth Sioux Falls emerged, the Wholestone referendum became viewed as a gigantic and expensive NIMBY dispute.
Much like the southside Walmart, a few well-heeled people (in the case of Wholestone – one!) didn’t approve of the site location (despite that both the southside Walmart and Wholestone were proposed for plots zoned appropriately for their purpose).
Jeff Broin does not have such egalitarian motives as to protect the citizens of Sioux Falls from existence of another animal processing plant. He just doesn’t want it built at that specific location.

#5 Mike Lee Zitterich on 11.10.22 at 7:46 am

There was no confusion on the Ordinance initiative, it was simple, any kindergartner could understand.

YES – support a ban on all slaughterhouses to be built inside city limits; or

NO – support allowing all slaughterhouses inside city limits.

There was no confusion, it is just a political ploy to try to manipulate voters along political fronts.

#6 ACinSFSD on 11.10.22 at 8:47 am

Sadly, District 15 is no longer the Democratic oasis it once was.

There are 2 large groups of RV voters in the district now that vote overwhelmingly Republican and are faithful voters in the midterm and general elections. Kadyn Wittman won her race by 97 votes.

Frankly, the older group of Democratic candidates in District 15 are not used to having to campaign for their seats (Nesiba had never knocked doors before this election) and I am just relieved that they were able to hold on. I hope Democrats in the district are able to recruit a new group of candidates like Wittman who are willing to do the work.

#7 Fear & Loathing in Sioux Falls on 11.10.22 at 9:11 am


#8 rufusx on 11.10.22 at 10:19 am

The problem is bringing an initiative measure intended to have a negative or prohibitive impact. One will ALWAYS have to vote “yes” to enact a prohibitive (negative) act. ALWAYS. That’s a good thing, IMO as it makes it inherently difficult to prohibit or inhibit liberty.

#9 rufusx on 11.10.22 at 10:23 am

@Daily – you are still confused.

#10 Barry on 11.10.22 at 3:13 pm

the ballot measure wasn’t that confusing if it was read.

#11 LJL on 11.10.22 at 5:27 pm

Once it was known that Mr. Poet was the backer, the low IQ class warfare crowd couldn’t keep themselves from hate voting.

Smithfield’s stinks and it’s in the wrong place. So let’s have another stinky pork plant in the city limits! That kinda thinking makes sense to someone who probably didn’t read the damn law anyways.

You sure did teach that rich guy a lesson! BTW. He has the money to move somewhere else if the stink is too unbearable. DO YOU?

#12 Very Stable Genius on 11.11.22 at 11:54 am

The Steel District and two pork plants, I can’t wait to see how our local leadership spins that economic development message. AND, perhaps, all of the local SilverStars can now be modified to clean and stop the stench.

( and Woodstock adds: “I still can’t believe that Moore Stench beat Les Stench”…. (… “Maybe the last names were confusing to voters”… :-)) #MoreIsLessLessIsMore)

#13 Donald Pay on 11.11.22 at 3:50 pm

The answer is yes, but the confusion over what yes and no means is not new. It happens in many initiative campaigns. The rule of thumb as we were told in the 1980s was that as many as 10 percent of people will be confused about what a yes or no vote means. The confusion does go both ways, but usually hurts the yes side most. It can be overcome with the proper advertising campaign. People who are confused tend are more likely to vote no.