How Do I Put a Measure on the Ballot?
This is a general guide for Sacramento Natural Foods Cooperative (SNFC) members who are interested in putting a measure on the ballot for a vote of the members. Any member attempting this process should also consult the SNFC Bylaws, Election Policy, and election schedule (available at the stores and on the web site), and may also contact the Policy Committee for guidance.
What is a Measure?
A measure is a question or statement put on the ballot of an SNFC election to be voted upon by all the members of the Co-op. It may be something entirely new (an initiative) or a response to something that has already occurred (a referendum). A ballot measure is the only way to change the SNFC Bylaws. In addition, a measure may be an “advisory survey” (e.g., not binding, but intended to take the pulse of the membership for Board consideration). In general, measures are included on the ballot in the annual general election, which takes place in August/September. Only the Board may declare a special or emergency election to deal with an issue outside that time frame. Due to the expense, this is done only when necessary.
All measures must be reviewed by the SNFC Policy Committee to make sure that they do not conflict with California’s Corporations Code or the existing Bylaws.
How to Get a Measure on the Ballot
There are three ways that an SNFC member-member can submit a measure:
- Bring it up at a regular Quarterly Member Meeting and if there is a quorum (100 members or more), a majority vote of those members present authorizes the measure to be put on the ballot. A special member meeting can be called by the Board on its own or by written request of at least 5 percent of the members. Bylaws changes cannot be proposed in this way.
- Develop a petition, and get the signatures of at least 100 active members. Petitions for measures to change the Bylaws must be signed by 5 percent of the members.
- Bring the issue to the Board and convince the Board to propose the measure for the ballot.
If you decide to bring a measure forward, you or someone else will have to fulfill the responsibilities of “sponsor.”
Sponsors are responsible for the following
- Following authorized campaign practices as described in the Election Policy.
- At the request of the Board, negotiating changes in wording of the measure to meet legal or other guidelines, or in the wording of arguments and rebuttals.
Although the election occurs in the fall, there is a long lead time for getting a measure on the ballot due to the need for review, development of election materials, mailing, etc. Timing of Quarterly Member Meetings can also be a factor if you choose that option. If you are interested in putting a measure on the fall ballot, you should be checking the election schedule information in January/February.
Once Your Measure Is Accepted for the Ballot
The text of each measure is posted in the stores and members have the opportunity to write arguments (pro and con statements) about it. If both pro and con arguments are received, there is an opportunity for rebuttal. The Election Committee is responsible for receiving arguments and seeing that they are posted in the store and printed in the Co-op Reporter and Ballot Packet.
Measures that would change the Bylaws require a 2/3 vote (of those who voted, not of the entire membership) to pass. All other measures require a simple majority.
Arguments (Pro and Con)
- There may only be one argument in support of, and one argument in opposition to, any measure. If more than one is submitted, the Election Committee will contact the writers to see if they can agree on a single argument, otherwise, the first one submitted is the one accepted.
- Arguments are 275 words maximum (as counted by a word processor), and must be computer generated or typewritten. This includes ALL words including signatures. A standard heading/title will be added by the Election Committee before posting, e.g. “Argument Opposed to XXXX,” which is not part of the word count.
- No one may submit both an argument in support of, and an argument in opposition to, the same measure.
- You may not submit an argument against a measure if you signed a petition supporting a measure.
- When arguments are submitted both in support of and in opposition to a measure, rebuttals may be submitted. Only the writers of the original arguments may submit rebuttals.
All items related to elections must be submitted to the Customer Service Desk at one of the stores. Let the clerk know what you are submitting and make sure that she/he dates and time stamps it to ensure that you met the deadline.
Posting of Election Material
All official election materials are posted in the stores, printed in the Co-op Reporter, posted on the SNFC web site, and included in the Ballot Packet. This includes the measures themselves, arguments pro and con, and rebuttals, as well as the election results.
A “template” schedule with general dates for election-related activities is available at any time in the stores or on the web site. By February of each year, the schedule with specific dates for that year’s election should be available and posted.
For More Information
For more information, contact the Chair of the Policy Committee or any Board member.