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Election process for General, Jurisdictional delegates goes back to basics

Election process for General, Jurisdictional delegates goes back to basics

e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service

Election process for General, Jurisdictional delegates goes back to basics

May 16, 2007  News media contact: Tita Parham*
800-282-8011  Orlando {0671}

An e-Review Feature
By J.A. Buchholz**

LAKELAND — Lay and clergy members attending the 2007 Florida Annual Conference Event June 6-9 will be charged with the task of electing delegates to the 2008 General and Southeastern Jurisdictional conferences.

And they’ll be casting their ballots the old-fashioned way — with pencil and paper.

Members of the election procedures committee opted to return to a simpler, less complicated balloting process than the electronic method used at the 2003 Florida Annual Conference Event to elect delegates for the 2004 conferences.

Members attending the 2003 Florida Annual Conference Event used hand-held electronic voting devices to elect delegates to the 2004 General and Jurisdictional conferences and vote on resolutions to General Conference. Photo by Michael Wacht. File photo: June 20, 2003/Florida United Methodist Review.

Dr. Kenneth L. Minton, executive pastor at First United Methodist Church, Lakeland, and a member of the committee, said the group chose the paper ballot and pencil method primarily because of the cost associated with using the electronic balloting system. He said when voting members of the conference register for the event in June, they will receive an election packet complete with ballots and a Number Two pencil.

Since the ballots will be sequentially numbered, Minton said delegates are specifically being asked not to share their ballots and to carefully secure their election packet.

“We need strict security to ensure the integrity of the balloting process,” he said.

After each vote is cast for each nominee, ushers will take the ballots to a bank of electronic scanners inside the Lakeland Center that will be used to count the number of votes, according to Minton. He said each slot for electing nominees will be tallied twice for accuracy and even a third time until all counts are resolved.

Minton said the down time between each balloting process is expected to last between six and eight minutes. The procedure will be consistent throughout the election process until all positions are filled.

The Rev. Dr. E. Keith Ewing, chairman of the election committee, said another factor the committee took into consideration was the process used in the two previous quadrennia. He said the committee decided to make one significant change — to the way clergy members are nominated. Like lay nominees, clergy members can now nominate themselves.

“Previously, lay nominees were self-nominated; however, clergy were nominated at the clergy executive session at annual conference,” Ewing said. “It was a cumbersome, time consuming process. Therefore, the election procedures committee established the process of clergy self-nomination. Interestingly, this quadrennium there are significantly more lay and clergy nominees than last quadrennium.”

Minton said the committee is strongly urging all voting members to review the nominees online or thoroughly read through their information in the 2007 annual conference event workbook before voting. He says while it may be convenient to look for a familiar face and vote for that person, members should carefully consider each nominee and their reasons for wanting to be elected; then, after prayerful consideration, cast their vote.

“For the sake of the church, we are asking members to really do their homework,” he said.

Ewing is confident the process the committee has chosen is a good system “to choose a diverse and competent delegation.”

“Is it the best? No, because it is not perfect,” he said. “It is designed by fallible human beings.”

Ewing said there will likely be a few problems because “human beings designed the process, human beings are voting in the process, human beings are implementing and carrying out the process, and computers and electronic scanners are involved.” 

“We always learn from our problems,” he added.

And, says Ewing, what the committee learns from this year’s process will be used to improve upon the system for the 2012 General and Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference elections.

More information about the “From Generation to Generation” 2007 Florida Annual Conference Event is available on the conference Web site at


This article relates to General, Jurisdictional Conferences/2007 Florida Annual Conference Event.

*Parham is managing editor of e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.
** Buchholz is a staff writer for e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.