Daily Herald

Associated Press
Group wants return to 'cumulative voting'
July 10, 2001

A bipartisan task force is ready to turn back the clock on the way the state's voters elect members of the Illinois House.

The Illinois Assembly on Political Representation and Alternative Electoral Systems, led by former Gov. Jim Edgar and former federal Judge Abner Mikva, wants to bring back "cumulative voting."

That was the decades-old system in use through 1980 that gave people multiple votes they could use for a single candidate or spread out among several to elect three representatives for each legislative district.

The system - used at a time when it was the only one of its kind in the nation - was dropped in favor of a winner-take all approach in 1980 when voters also cut the number of House members by one-third.

Supporters of the return to cumulative voting argue it would increase voter interest in elections and give everybody a voice in Springfield.

"Because winner-take-all electoral systems produce a single representative from each district, members of the minority party are often left without representation," said their report, released Monday.

As recently as 2000, half the races for the House were uncontested.

The task force was put together last year by the University of Illinois Institute of Government and Public Affairs in Urbana, and the Joyce Foundation, which provided funding.

Political activist Patrick Quinn, who led the fight to end cumulative voting, participated in the study and continues to oppose the system, suggesting it would foster more voter confusion and spoiled ballots.