Success Story: 4-County Electric Power Association
Established in 1937, 4-County Electric Power Association (4-County) is a not-for-profit electrical distribution cooperative serving the counties of Choctaw, Chickasaw, Clay, Monroe, Noxubee, Oktibbeha, Webster, and Winston in northeastern Mississippi. 4-County is committed to finding ways, via technology and innovation, to provide quality, cost-effective services to its 46,000 member/owners.
As the Manager of Marketing & Public Relations, my responsibilities include directing all member and external communications. This includes our employee newsletter, member communications, marketing campaigns, advertising, energy efficiency messages, and our annual meeting. With the task of the annual meeting comes our yearly director election where co-op members select some of our directors to help lead the organization. Overall, we have seven directors, one from each of our six districts and one at-large. Each year we hold an election for a portion of those seven seats.
Our challenge is ensuring election participation – co-op policy requires a ten percent quorum overall and five percent from each district for results to be valid. Because of this requirement, we need to make sure that we are providing co-op members with convenient ways to vote. We realized it was time that an online voting option was made available for member convenience and to help drive response.
In order to offer online voting, we had to move away from an accounting firm who had been assisting with the election and search for vendors who specialized in web balloting. This was uncharted territory for our cooperative so we did our due-diligence. We created a full proposal process, complete with interviews and a selection matrix to grade prospective vendors.
Through the selection process it was made clear that Survey & Ballot Systems (SBS) was the company to hire. SBS had the qualifications and co-op experience to help with our situation. We enjoyed meeting the team and liked the enthusiasm they showed towards helping our cooperative.
Setting up the online voting system with SBS was an easy process. The SBS Client Service Team walked us through the web system and teamed up with our staff to solve how online balloting was going to integrate with our paper voting procedure.
In the end, we got exactly what we wanted: a hybrid election that included a convenient online voting method to encourage member participation.
“In our business, some companies are just vendors, while others are part of the team. SBS is definitely part of the 4-County team.” ~ Jon Turner, Manager of Marketing & Public Relations, 4-County Electric Power Association