Electric Co-Op Meeting
Draws Large Mail-In Vote
Also Sparks Confusion
and Some Controversy
(L) and Roy Smallwood, Jr. (R) were
re-elected during the Arab Electric
Cooperative Annual Meeting. Seth
Sullivan (Center) unseated incumbent Monte
August 23, 2008
news was that approximately 4,000 votes were
cast in the Arab Electric Co-Op Annual
Meeting on Saturday. The bad news was
that it wasn't without some confusion which
sparked a lengthy debate during the meeting.
for many years to have a quorum for business
meetings, the new mail-in voting relieved
that problem this year. According to
Mercer and Associates, the CPA firm that
handled the voting, some 3,896 votes were
cast by mail and 165 votes were cast during
Two incumbents were re-elected while one was
defeated. Incumbent Jeff McLemore, defeated challenger
Thomas Gullion by a vote of 2,368 to 1,450. Roy Smallwood,
Jr., also an incumbent, led the vote against challenger Adam
Goss. Smallwood polled 1,950 votes while Goss received
1,788. Board President Lamonte Davis was defeated by first
time challenger Seth Sullivan. Sullivan won with 1,983
votes to Davis' 1,787 votes.
The board met in an organizational meeting
immediately after the annual meeting in order to elect officers.
Brian Walker was elected President, Jeff McLemore Vice-President
and Max Hyatt elected as secretary.
AEC officials were happy with the response
generated by the first time mail-in ballots. AEC members
approved the mail-in option during last years meeting.
Attendance at the meeting dropped significantly from previous
years as members took advantage of the new voting method.
The new method of voting was not without some
confusion and controversy. AEC attorney, Claude Burke,
told those in attendance that a "significant glitch" had been
discovered with the new method. According to Burke, past
voting rules allowed for one vote per person no matter how many
electric meters that they have. The only exception was if
a member had a home meter and also owned a corporation or
limited liability company which is a legal entity in and of
itself. In prior years AEC staff were able to monitor the
onsite voting assuring that members did not vote multiple times.
Burke, said that because of old data, the AEC computer system
was unable to distinguish between corporate and personal
memberships and most businesses did not receive a ballot.
Arab business man Robert Ballew said that was
not fair. "I own five businesses and have five meters, but
I was only able to vote once." Ballew told the group.
"I pay five bills so I think I should be able to vote each
membership." Ballew added.
Janet Bright, another Arab business owner,
told the group that she carried documentation of her corporation
to the AEC office but was still denied a chance to vote both
In contrast, Ronny Shumate, an Arab City
Council member, said that he received two ballots, one for his
home and one for his horse barn. "My wife and I were able
to cast two votes." Shumate said. Joking about the
situation, Shumate said "I appreciate the $10 savings on my
Burke acknowledged that several similar
situations had occurred as the system tried to work through the
new method. "I am recommending that the Board form a
committee made up of several members at large and several board
members to address the problem and make a recommendation at next
Burke said under the current rules of changing
the bylaws it will probably take two years to get a final
solution. That did not sit well with Ballew who asked why
a motion could not be made immediately to allow multiple votes.
Burke told Ballew that it would be better to let a committee
explore the matter and make a recommendation at the next
meeting. "In the past we have had people try to vote their
electric fence, well pump and other things. Large
corporations such as the phone company or cable company might
have 50 meters or more which would allow them to have greater
say than a individual member." Burke added.
Seth Sullivan made a motion to allow a vote
for each meter but later withdrew the motion at the urging of
Burke. Ballew and Bright volunteered to serve on the
Mike Davis, who does not own a business, said
"everyone should consider the value gained from having 4,000
votes cast instead of the normal 700 votes cast during a regular
meeting." "I feel that allowing multiple votes would
diminish my vote." he added.
The issue was eventually tabled until a
committee makes a recommendation.
The awarding of door prizes also drew some
criticism. Unlike prior years, persons whose names were
drawn for prizes did not have to be present to win. All
fifteen of the prize winners were mail-in votes. Former
AEC board member Johnny Chamness said that at least a portion of
the prizes should be reserved for those attending the meeting.
"These people thought enough of their co-op to actually attend
the meeting and no one won a prize. I think anyone who
comes to the meeting should be guaranteed a chance at some of
the prizes". Burke said he agreed and would refer the
matter to the Board.
Those winning $50 were:
J. W. Wilson
$100 winners were: