Ballot mixup causing confusion in BECi election

The Beauregard Electric Co-Op (BECi) is turning to the BECi Credentials and Election Committee to address concerns surrounding the current open election for Districts 2, 4 and 7.

On March 1, BECi announced that the board of directors unanimously voted to refer all election and registration matters to the Credentials and Election Committee.

Each year, director elections are held for three BECi districts. The ballots for the District 2 and 4 elections were mailed out on Feb. 20; District 7 is uncontested so no ballots were sent out. In the days following the ballot distribution, BECi received phone calls that members were receiving ballots for districts they did not live in.

Investigations found that some members did receive ballots in error. BECi determined this is because of the creation and “partial deletion of the proposed District 10.”

On May 2, 2023, the board unanimously decided to create a 10th district that would run along and around Highway 171 in the Ragley area of Beauregard Parish by rearranging boundaries in District 4 and 6.

This change would have led to the addition of a new board member. BECi began work to redraw the district, but in September the board voted to table any redistricting decision until 2024. The map including a 10th district was never approved by the board.

It was this decision that led to the ballot distribution error, Brian Zelenak, executive vice president and general manager, BECi, told the American Press.

“The districts were changed due to the anticipated addition of District 10. In short, BECi’s staff had already made changes to neighboring districts to implement the new 10th district, and some of the changes were not reversed correctly prior to mailing ballots for the 2024 election.”

About 356 members received ballots for districts that were affected by the creation and deletion of District 10; Some members that need to vote did not receive a ballot. BECi said they are working with the post office and the printing and mailing company to correct this as investigations continue.

The Credentials and Election Committee – comprising eight active members – will be deciding to either continue the current election ballot process or implement a new 2024 election ballot process. The board made this decision to allow the committee to “independently determine the proper way forward to ensure a fair and transparent election,” according to a release.

All of the board candidates have been notified and additional information will become available after the Credentials and Election Committee Members meet.

BECi said ballots must be received in the DeRidder Post Office before 4:30 p.m. Friday March 15. The official ballot count is currently scheduled for Monday, March 18.

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