Amarillo College Board of Regents members on April 27 unanimously voted to switch its winner-take-all, at-large election system to cumulative voting. The decision comes as a settlement to a lawsuit brought under the Voting Rights Act calling for change to a method that prevented racial minorities from electing candidates of choice.
Used in many cities across America, cumulative voting was adopted for elections to the Amarillo, TX Independent School District Board in 2000 under similar circumstances. It was a compromise between advocates of single-member winner-take-all districts and defenders of an impossible status quo. From 1980 to 1996, racial minorities repeatedly lost elections. Since implementation six years ago, African-American and/or Latino candidates have won representation in every cycle.
City commission elections now face a similar challenge.