Proportional Voting in Texas
“We are very excited, pleased and basking in the historical moment of this, It gave minorities the prospect that we can make a difference; our vote can make a difference and we can be an integral part of the process”

- Alphonso Vaughn, president of Amarillo's NAACP chapter

"We were hoping one of the minority candidates would be elected. The fact that we got two minorities on the board is awesome. History was made in Amarillo." 

- Nancy Bosquez, a justice of the peace and a local leader of the League of United Latin American Citizens

Over the past fifteen years, communities throughout Texas have shown their commitment to inclusive democracy by adopting cumulative voting, a proportional voting election method, for school board elections. Proportional voting has dramatically increased the opportunities for members of racial and ethnic minorities to win office, leading to the election of Latino and African Americans for the first time all over the state.

Prior to the adoption of cumulative voting, many districts like Atlanta ISD had never had a non-Anglo elected to the school board, even though African Americans, Hispanics, and other minorities were a substantial part of the population--Atlanta, for example, is 20% African American.

This changed when more than 57 Jurisdictions in Texas switched to cumulative voting between 1991 and 2000, primarily to remedy Voting Rights Act suits. In 1995, then-governor George W. Bush recognized the support for proportional voting in the state, and signed enabling legislation to allow school districts to adopt cumulative and limited voting.

Cumulative voting allows a political minority to gain representation by focusing its voting strength on one candidate.  For example, the first African Americans were elected to the Atlanta, TX independent school district (ISD) school board largely as a result of African American voters' giving all their votes to these candidates. 

On May 15, 2004, the Amarillo Independent School District -- a jurisdiction with some 160,000 people -- elected its school board for the third time with cumulative voting. In each of these elections, at least one candidate of color has been elected. The current seven-member board has both African American and Latino representatives, after having had only white representatives for some two decades under the winner-take-all system.  

Amarillo's adoption of cumulative voting was the result of litigation brought by the Mexican-American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF), working with the local branches of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).  The parties in the case agreed to settle the case with the adoption of cumulative voting.

Recent Articles
October 19th 2009
A better election system
Lowell Sun

Election expert Doug Amy explains how choice voting can "inject new blood" into the elections of Lowell (MA), and give voters a greater incentive to participate.

October 16th 2009
Haven't Detroit voters spoken enough?
Livingston Daily

In Detroit, there have been three mayors in the past two years and the current one has come under scrutiny. Perhaps a system like instant runoff voting will help bring political stability to motor city.

August 21st 2009
Black candidate for Euclid school board to test new voting system
Cleveland Plain Dealer

Limited voting, a form of proportional voting, will be used in Euclid (OH), in the hopes of allowing better representation of minorities.

July 2nd 2009
Reforming Albany
New York Times

FairVote's Rob Richie responds in a letter to the editor making the case for proportional voting systems to bring substantive reform to New York's legislature.