Brewster's Carroll Electric petition nomination denied
BERRYVILLE -- The petition drive to nominate Marcie Brewster for the Carroll Electric District 6 Board of Directors position failed by eight votes, Carroll Electric announced Thursday.
Although the number of total member signatures well exceeded the required amount of 693, of those, 250 had to be from members in District 6, and there were only 242, officials said.
Total signatures, according to petition organizer Gordon Watson, were 1,300, and Carroll Electric stated 1,076 were valid, disqualifying 224 signatures.
In its press release, Carroll Electric said that attorney John Burrow of Fayetteville oversaw the petition count process, which took three days this week, from Tuesday through Thursday.
"Carroll Electric took this process very seriously," Burrow stated. "Every effort was made to protect Ms. Brewster's interest. Even if members had multiple accounts in different districts, those signatures were credited to District 6. This process was methodical and I am confident in the results."
Under the bylaws, which have been changed several times, a member-driven petition to get a candidate on the board requires 1 percent of the entire membership and 250 signatures from the district with an open seat. As of December 2010, there were 69,383 members. The nomination required 693 total signatures.
"Since 1983, Carroll Electric has steadily, and with careful calculation, raised the requirements to make it increasingly difficult to challenge incumbents," wrote Watkins in an email.
"Thirty signatures were required for ballot petitions in 1993. Now 1 percent of the membership (693) must sign petitions and, of those, 250 must be from the district with a vacancy. In this case that's almost 10 percent of District 6 members. It is ridiculous for Carroll Electric to deny Marcie a slot on the ballot when there clearly is a solid base of members who support her candidacy."
"The one percent ratio is common within the industry and is geared to protect members from the threat of a hostile takeover," Carroll Electric officials said in their press release. "These concerns have resurfaced for electric cooperatives within the last four years."
As of today, Brewster and supporters went to the Carroll Electric offices in Berryville to ask that her nomination be validated, as "the eight-signature shortfall is insignificant, falling well within the normal 12 to 13 vote margin of error for the 250 required."
In a letter to Carroll Electric CEO Rob Boaz, the petition team asked on what basis the 224 signatures were invalidated; of those, how many were from District 6; and how is it determined in which district a member resides, if their property falls on a line between districts.
"Because we were repeatedly denied access to the membership list for canvassing purposes, it was difficult to focus our efforts on District 6," the letter said.
If the request is denied, the petition team is asking for a recount, with at least one of its members present.
"A recount would be automatically triggered in any legitimate election process when the vote or signature count is within the normal margin of error."