(a) With respect to any referendum conducted under the provisions of this article, the state ADA and Alabama Farmers Dairy Division shall, before calling and announcing such referendum, fix, determine and publicly announce at least 30 days before the date determined upon for such referendum, the date, hours and polling places for voting in such referendum, the amount and basis of the assessment proposed to be collected, the means by which such assessment shall be collected if authorized by the producers, and the general purposes to which said amount so collected shall be applied. No annual assessment levied under the provisions of this article shall exceed the federally mandated $0.15 per hundredweight of milk produced; however, an amount not to exceed $0.10 per hundredweight of milk produced shall be credited to the state ADA for dairy product promotion and nutrition education programs.
(b) As an alternative method of conducting a referendum under the provisions of this article, the state ADA and Alabama Farmers Dairy Division in its discretion may conduct the referendum by a mail ballot as herein provided. In the event that a decision is made to conduct a mail ballot, public notice of said mail ballot shall be made at least 30 days before the date of said referendum. Said notice shall contain the same information required by subsection (a) of this section except that the notice will also state that the ballot is to be conducted by mail rather than at polling places. The notice shall also state that official ballots are being mailed on a date specified in the notice to all bulk tank units known by the state ADA and Alabama Farmers Dairy Division to be eligible to vote and that any bulk tank unit not receiving by mail an official ballot by a date specified in the notice will have 10 days thereafter to apply for an official ballot at the office of the state ADA. The notice shall state the deadline for the receipt of all ballots and the address of the state ADA.
(c) Official ballots shall be prepared by the state ADA and Alabama Farmers Dairy Division and mailed by first class mail to the last known address of all bulk tank units known to be eligible to vote. As announced in the public notice, said ballots shall be made available for a period of not less than 10 days, to those who are eligible to vote in said referendum and did not receive a ballot by mail.
(d) Before any bulk tank unit shall receive an official ballot, he shall furnish such proof as the state ADA and Alabama Farmers Dairy Division Service may require of his eligibility to vote in said referendum. The state ADA shall keep a list of those bulk tank units who receive official ballots. No bulk tank unit may receive more than one official ballot unless the bulk tank unit proves to the satisfaction of the state ADA and Alabama Farmers Dairy Division Service that the ballot has been lost or destroyed.
(e) No votes shall be counted which are not on official ballots. To be eligible to be counted, ballots must be received by the state ADA at the place and by the deadline previously announced in the public notice of said referendum.