Member claims KIUC ballot invalid; board attorney argues otherwise

LIHU‘E — Puhi resident Carol Bain, a member of the League of Women Voters of Kaua‘i, has some serious concerns about the validity of ballots for Saturday’s election of Kaua‘i Island Utility Cooperative board of directors and vote on bylaw amendments.

“There’s no doubt the KIUC ballot is seriously flawed,” said Bain, referring to a section of the KIUC bylaws that states that signed votes are required for votes to be valid at meetings of members.

David Proudfoot, KIUC board attorney, says the bylaw section Bain refers to has nothing to do with election of directors.

All ballots submitted for the election should be signed by voters, or they won’t be valid, Bain argued. But to require members to sign ballots would totally destroy the secret-ballot idea, Proudfoot countered.

The bylaws require a signed vote at member meetings, not a signed ballot for board elections, he said. There is a provision to amend the bylaws to get rid of the signed-vote provision at member meetings, in favor of written votes on matters such as motions, resolutions or amendments.

“There is absolutely nothing wrong with the election of the board of directors,” Proudfoot said.

But Bain does have a valid point about not having the full text of proposed bylaw amendments included on the ballots, something that would have cost much money and something KIUC officials thought they had adequately addressed by including a voter guide with all the ballots mailed out two weeks ago, Proudfoot conceded.

“I think people should know that the ballot is flawed. I think the voters should know,” Bain said. “I’m going to let the PUC (state Public Utilities Commission) know, for sure.”

She consulted two attorneys who agreed with her that the ballots don’t conform to KIUC’s own bylaws, something Proudfoot continues to dispute.

Bain is encouraging anyone who has not yet voted to sign their ballots so they will be counted. Proudfoot said signed ballots will be counted, as well as unsigned ballots.

Bain further said she has a problem with the KIUC board deciding to lump together 11 proposed amendments as “housekeeping” matters to be voted upon with one “yes” or “no” choice for all 11.

She finds some of the matters are more than housekeeping measures, including the provision to allow written versus signed ballots at member meetings, she said.

Proudfoot said he would forward to the KIUC board Bain’s request to have someone from the League of Women Voters sit on or assist committees in forming clear bylaw amendments and ballots for future elections.

Associate Editor Paul C. Curtis can be reached at pcurtis@pulitzer.net or 245-3681 (ext. 224).

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