Great Lakes Energy members will soon vote on amendments to the co-op’s bylaws that would allow the board of directors to be elected by district.

Starting in 2014, the change would involve electing directors from nine geographic districts to create a more equal representation throughout the co-op’s 26-county service area. Currently, nine directors are elected “at-large”, which means they can reside anywhere within the service area. The transition to nine separate districts would be gradual. “The three-year terms of the nine member board would be equally staggered, with three director seats – each from a separate district – open each year,” explains Richard Walsworth, GLE board chairman.

By the end of the 2016 election, the board would consist of directors that were all elected by members within their respective districts. Directors would be required to live in the district where they were elected.

Voting will take place by a mail-in ballot attached to the February issue of Michigan Country Lines magazine.

Nationwide, 90 percent of electric co-ops elect directors by district because it encourages geographic diversity by ensuring the board includes representatives from throughout the co-op service area. With at-large elections, there is a possibility that most directors would come from only those areas with a higher population.