The voting process for 2016 General Conference delegates at the 2015 Annual Conference ran into problems with wifi connectivity, causing several ballots to be retaken. Subsequent analysis of the voting reports by the conference showed discrepancies with the presentations of ballot results displayed during the voting process. These discrepancies involved the total number of voters listed on the subsequent reports not matching those displayed, and discrepancies in the total number of votes cast in each ballot. Upon further examination it was discovered that these discrepancies were caused by cross-voting (clergy voting for laity, and laity voting for clergy). Under voting and over voting were also discovered which should not have been permitted. There is also a possibility that issues with wifi connectivity may not have allowed all votes cast to be recorded.
Thus, while the delegation that was chosen may represent the intent of the body despite the discrepancies, the election results cannot be certified because of the discrepancies. Since the Book of Discipline requires that the election of General Conference delegates be “fair and open” (paragraph 13.2), we will need to hold a new election at the 2015 Adjourned Session.
The 2015 Eastern PA Annual Conference elected as 2016 General and Northeaster Jurisdictional Conference Delegates—Clergy members: Dawn Taylor-Storm, Jeffrey Raffauf, Robert Wilt, and Lydia Munoz. Lay members elected were: Judith Ehninger; Mary White; Aaron Joseph Smith; and Clarita Krall. Additionally elected as NE Jurisdictional Conference Delegates were: Laity–Krystl Johnson, Ann Jacob, Jordan Harris and Lenora Thompson.; and Clergy: Joseph DiPaolo, Tracy Bass, Christopher Kurien and Robin Hynicka. Elected as Alternate Delegates were: Clergy–Irving Cotto, Melinda McKonly and Sutja Bang; and Laity–Ross Brightwell, Jane Bonner and David Koch.
Several clergy and lay members withdrew from General Conference consideration after early ballots, when votes consistently did not reach the minimum needed to elect. Difficulties with the new electronic voting devices also slowed the process. In the end, the annual conference voted to suspend its rules and elect top vote-getters on single ballots to complete the process.
The complete delegation is rich in racial, ethnic, gender and generational diversity, perhaps a result, in part, of Bishop Peggy Johnson’s expressed reminder before each ballot that, “We are a diverse denomination.” Two women, the Rev. Dawn Taylor-Storm and Judith Ehninger, were the first clergy and lay members elected, respectively. Taylor-Storm and the Rev, Tracy Bass, are two of the conference’s newest district superintendents. Three of the four Jurisdictional Conference delegates–Krystl Johnson, Ann Jacob and Jordan Harris–are all racial-ethnic young adults, and General Conference delegate Aaron Smith is also a young adult.
Among other affinities, Mary White and Lenora Thompson, both African American women, previously served as Conference Lay Leaders; and David Koch is the current Conference Lay Leader. And the Rev. Christopher Kurien and Ann Jacob, father and daughter, will both attend Jurisdictional Conference together for the second time.
Main Photo: Eighteen lay nominees to the 2016 General Conference were presented by Lay Leader David Koch (not shown) during his Laity Session report, just prior to Annual Conference. Five of these nine nominees were eventually elected. Sabrina Daluisio photo.
Carol Black photo taken by Sabrina Daluisio. Voting device photo taken by Rev. James Mundell.
Conference members also approved leadership changes, mostly corrections and additions, proposed by Conference Nominations Committee Chairwoman Carol Black (right):