|Editorial: It is so far, so good for cumulative voting
Amarillo Globe News, May 11, 2000
Supporters of the cumulative voting process used in the Amarillo Independent School District trustee election Saturday touted the system as a success due in part to the election of minority candidates James Allen and Rita Sandoval.
To a certain degree, the cumulative voting process was a positive factor in the election, but its role as a tool to increase minority voter turnout still must stand the test of time before it can be termed a success. A primary factor to consider is that Allen and Sandoval were qualified candidates who deserved voter support regardless of minority status.
This fact was recognized as Allen and Sandoval received comparable strong support in predominantly white voting districts as in districts with high minority populations.
Overall, 12.7 percent of registered voters cast ballots in the election, up from 3.4 percent in the May 1998 election, a promising sign to be sure. However, comparing separate elections is a difficult process.
The influence of the proposed pay raise for the Amarillo police and fire departments was significant in increasing voter turnout. Similar proposals are not always on the ballot, which affects voter turnout.
According to AISD assistant superintendent for administration Les Hoyt, the 1998 AISD trustee election had an overall voter turnout of 3,500. The 1996 election, which included the sale of Northwest Texas Hospital, had an overall voter turnout of 18,000. In the North Heights Center, with a high percentage of black voters, registered voter turnout was 10 percent for the 1996 election and 7.5 percent Saturday. Voting percentages do not include early voting totals.
The goal of the cumulative voting system was to increase minority voter turnout.
Results indicate the process was an advantage in accomplishing this objective, rather than a detriment.
However, there are many factors to consider when comparing voting totals from separate elections.
The initial application of the AISD cumulative voting system was an indication of the promising aspects that could be more fully realized in future elections.