Cumulative Voting -- A Commonly Used Proportional Representation Method
In cumulative voting, voters cast as many votes as there are seats. But unlike winner-take-all systems, voters are not limited to giving only one vote to a candidate. Instead, they can put multiple votes on one or more candidates. For instance, in an election for a five-seat body, voters could choose to give one vote each to five candidates, two votes to one candidate and three to another, or all five votes to a single candidate. If a members of minority group work together and get behind a single candidate, "plumping" all of their votes on him or her, they can hope to get someone elected, even if they only make up a small share of the population. Voting rights scholar Lani Guinier has promoted cumulative voting as a colorblind means to provide fair minority representation.

Cumulative voting was used to elect the Illinois state legislature from 1870 to 1980. In recent years it has been used to resolve voting rights cases for city council elections in Amarillo (TX) and Peoria (IL), for county commission elections in Chilton County (AL) and for school board elections in Sisseton (SD) and more than fifty other jurisdictions; in most cases a member from the protected minority was elected following the implementation of cumulative voting. Cumulative voting in 1994 was imposed by a federal judge in a Maryland voting rights case.

Many corporations use cumulative voting to elect their Boards of Directors, in order to represent the interests of minority shareholders. About 10% of the S&P 500 use cumulative voting, including Aon, Toys 'R' Us, Walgreen's and Hewlett-Packard. Several condominium associations use cumulative voting so that all unit owners are represented on the board.


April 17th 2007
Port Chester board move to settle voting rights suit
The Journal News

FairVote's Jack Santucci is quoted on Port Chester's (NY) move toward cumulative voting rights in a Voting Rights Act lawsuit.

March 5th 2007
Council race looks like 1999 election
Peoria Journal Star

Peoria (IL) held local primaries under cumulative voting, which turns bullet voting into a way to win fair representation.

February 28th 2007
Sandberg top vote-getter in Peoria
Peoria Journal-Star

Primary elections under cumulative voting in Peoria (IL) saw a youthful door-knocker advance to the general round in April.

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