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Commentary ‘Co-ops Vote’ Successful in Oklahoma A


Chris Meyers General Manager, Oklahoma Association of Electric Cooperatives


couple of months ago we introduced you to a non-parti-


san, cooperative-support- ed campaign, Co-ops Vote. The goal of this initiative —which was supported by more than 560 electric co- ops throughout the coun-


try—was to tackle a decline in rural voting. With 42 million member-owners in 47 states, electric co-ops have a powerful voice in national issues that have local impact. In the 2012 elections, ru- ral voter turnout dropped by 18 percent, twice the decline seen across the nation as a whole. In Oklahoma, after the 2016 presidential elec- tion, we are encouraged by a growing percentage of registered voters in rural counties who made their voices heard. The number of voters voting in the 2016 presidential election was up 6.48 per- cent in Oklahoma’s 65 rural counties and up 11.54 percent in Oklahoma’s 12 urban counties which include Oklahoma and Tulsa counties as well


as surrounding counties: Canadian,


Cleveland, Creek, Grady, Logan, McClain, Pottawatomie, Rogers, Wagoner and Washington. In the context of Co-ops Vote for Oklahoma, the


percentage of rural registered voters who actually voted in the 2016 presidential election grew by an average of 4.92 percent as compared to the 2012 presidential election. The percentage of ur- ban voters who actually voted grew by an average of 4.65 percent.


It’s important to note that—according to data from the Oklahoma Election Board—the actual number of registered voters in 45 of Oklahoma’s 77 counties decreased. Still, voter engagement increased from 63.01 percent of registered voters who voted in the 2012 presidential election to 67.26 percent who voted in the 2016 presidential election. Only six counties experienced a decline of voters from the 2016 presidential election as compared to the 2012 presidential election: Adair, Beaver, Blaine, Cimarron, Jackson and Tillman.


Nationally, Co-ops Vote has been deemed a suc- cess by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association. We still have room for improvement in Oklahoma, but we are encouraged by stronger rural voter participation. Collectively, Oklahoma’s electric cooperatives serve more than 550,000 consumer-members; and for nearly eight decades electric cooperatives have brought safe, afford- able and reliable electricity to rural Oklahoma. It’s vital that we make our voices heard.


Living Out the Cooperative Spirit ‘


T


Gary McCune President, Oklahoma Association of Electric Cooperatives


is the season’ is an expression found on cards, gift bags and


various types of apparel at this time of year. Indeed, it is a special season. It is a time to count our bless- ings and be grateful. A time to reach out to oth-


ers, strengthen relationships and extend a hand to those who may be hurting or who simply need hope.


One of my blessings is to be involved in the


rural electric cooperative program. You see, elec- tric cooperatives are not just an electric utility. Cooperatives genuinely care about those they serve and have joy in giving back to their local communities. The story you will read on Page 8 of this edition of Oklahoma Living showcases var- ious community outreaches cooperatives are par- ticipating in during this season. Programs such as coats for kids, helping someone pay their electric bill, or providing meals to families in need are


4


Oklahoma Association of Electric Cooperatives Chris Meyers, General Manager Gary McCune, President


Scott Copeland, Vice-President Larry Hicks, Secretary Tim Smith, Treasurer


Staff


Sid Sperry, Director of PR & Communications sksperry@oaec.coop


Anna Politano, Editor editor@ok-living.coop


Hayley Leatherwood, Multimedia Specialist hleatherwood@ok-living.coop


Shannen McCroskey, Marketing Specialist smccroskey@ok-living.coop


Kirbi Mills, Director of Admin. Services kmills@oaec.coop


Hillary Barrow, Admin. Services Assistant hbarrow@oaec.coop


Amanda Lester, Editorial Intern intern@oaec.coop


Editorial, Advertising and General Offi ces P.O. Box 54309, Oklahoma City, OK 73154 Phone (405) 478-1455


Oklahoma Living online: www.ok-living.coop Subscriptions


$3.48 per year for rural electric cooperative members.


$7 per year for non-members. Cooperative Members: Report change of


address to your local rural electric cooperative. Non-Cooperative Members: Send address


changes to Oklahoma Living, P.O. Box 54309, Oklahoma City, OK 73154-1309.


Oklahoma Living (ISSN 1064-8968),


expressions that the cooperative spirit is alive and well. To take a step further, this year Oklahoma’s electric cooperatives sent volunteer linemen to bring electricity for the fi rst time to remote vil- lages in the Amazonian area of Bolivia. As a re- sult of this project, 361 families will enjoy the gift of light for the fi rst time this Christmas. I can only imagine their joy in fl ipping the switch or decorating their homes with a tree and Christmas lights for the very fi rst time.


But, what makes the cooperative program spe-


cial? The people. From you, co-op member-own- ers to linemen, internal staff, management teams and board members, this program is made up of salt-of-the-earth people who care. They are the ones who bring light and hope to their neigh- bors, whether in their local communities, in their regions, nationally or even internationally. This season, I encourage you to share the cooperative spirit with those around you—those you know and those you don’t know. Make it count. Merry Christmas and a prosperous 2017 for each of you!


USPS 407-040, is published monthly for consumer-members of Oklahoma’s rural electric cooperatives by the Oklahoma Association of Electric Cooperatives, 2325 E. I-44 Service Road, P.O. Box 54309, Oklahoma City, OK 73154-1309.


Circulation this issue: 324,230


Periodical postage paid at Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The Oklahoma Association of Electric


Cooperatives is a statewide service organization for the following electric cooperatives: Alfalfa, Arkansas Valley, Canadian Valley, Central,


Choctaw, Cimarron, CKenergy, Cookson Hills, Cotton, East Central Oklahoma, Harmon, Indian, KAMO Power, Kay, Kiamichi, Lake Region, Northeast Oklahoma, Northfork, Northwestern, Oklahoma, Ozarks, People’s,


Red River Valley, Rural, Southeastern, Southwest Rural, Tri-County, Verdigris Valley, and Western Farmers Electric Cooperative.


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