Voices & Choices

Abner Mikva, Fair Representation Voting Champion, Has Died

Abner Mikva, Fair Representation Voting Champion, Has Died

Abner Mikva died on July 4th, our nation's Independence Day. Judge Mikva had a storied career, including time as a federal judge, Member of Congress and White House counsel.

We knew Judge Mikva through his passionate support for bringing cumulative voting back to Illinois. Like ranked choice voting when used in multi-winner districts, cumulative voting is a fair representation voting method that resulted in representation of Illinois' political diversity in its legislature, including most elections resulting in both parties winning in every district during the years it was used. He had been elected under the system (see an account of its role in this description) in 1956 and served five terms, and it empowered him to carve out an independent position. In 2001, a commission he co-chaired with former Governor Jim Edgar (R) recommended restoring fair representation voting and explained how its repeal in 1980 had undercut representative government. You can read the straightforward summary of the case for change.

Mikva's support contributed to his former student, then state senator, Barack Obama joining with a Republican to cosponsor legislation to allow voters to decide whether to bring back cumulative voting. To see more about cumulative voting's history in Illinois, see this short video featuring some wonderful interview clips.


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