Good news yesterday from Amarillo for advocates of proportional voting. In 2006, a voting rights suit against the winner-take-all, at-large voting system for the Amarillo College board of regents had been settled with cumulative voting. Cumulative voting is non-winner-take-all voting method where candidates run in multi-seat districts and voters have as many votes as seats and can allocate their votes however they wish rather than cast only one vote person candidate. It has been used since 2000 for the Amarillo Independent School District, each time resulting in at least one person of color winning after two decades of no racial minority winning with the old winner-take-all system - currently the seven-member board has one African American and one Latina.
On May 10, three at-large seats were elected to the college board, using cumulative voting for the first time. One person of color ran -- African American incumbent Prenis Williams, who had been appointed in 2006. He comfortably finished first. (Also, Latina incumbent Lilia Escajeda was unopposed in a separate election for board chair).
Amarillo's population is about 185,000. Demographics are changing, but about 70-75% of the adult population is white, with Latinos making up the majority of the rest of the population .
For more, see:
* Two new faces join AC regents, a news article in the Amarillo Globe-News on Sunday, May 11, 2008
* History of cumulative voting in Texas at FairVote.org
* Cumulative voting at work in Texas, an article by Bob Brischetto from 1995