“It seems to me that someone who owns more properties, whether industrial, commercial or residential, should get more votes when it comes to board election time. I have a house, a cabin and an office, but I only get one vote. Why?” asked a member recently.
One vote per membership is dictated by our Bylaws. Bylaws are the governing rules of our co-op, which were established by GVEA’s Board of Directors when the co-op was founded in 1946. Changes to the Bylaws can only be made by a vote of the membership.
Our Bylaws have been updated and modified to reflect current times, but many of the guiding principles have remained the same. Where exactly did the one vote per membership come from?
Many of our governing rules, including this one, date as far back as 1844. This is when the Rochdale Pioneers, a group of craftsman, opened a little cooperative store in England. Their principles stated:
“This store is open to all, charges ordinary market prices, receives only ready money and gives no credit, gives dividends in proportion to purchases. Every member must have a share or shares and receive good interest. All are equal in voting power, whether they have few or many shares…”
There it is: each member gets one vote regardless of his or her stock in the company. We all have equal voting power.
But wait! There are instances when one individual could have more than one membership. Two things come into play: (1) Name (2) Type of account (individual, joint or business name). For example, Tom Johnson has an individual account (his cabin) and a joint account with his spouse for their house. That would be two separate memberships. Tom could also be the sole account holder for his business, ABC Painting Co. under the business name. That’s a third membership.