Tarheeltalker

Voting and voting and voting some more

Back during those nearly forgotten pre- Obama days of the 2008 presidential campaign, I did  a post entitled Vote Early and Often. At the time I included  a qualifier that I was just  kidding. Perhaps I was just ahead of schedule and I did  not live in Port Chester, NY.

Port Chester is a small village about 30 minutes from New York City.  Over the years no Latino  had ever been elected  as a trustee ( assume that would equivalent to  a city council member)  even though the village is about  half Hispanic.  Pay close attention to this next line. Most voters were white  and white candidates always won.

Enter the feds, as represented by the  U S Dept of Justice ( think Eric Holder)  and federal judge Stephen Robinson. Judge Robinson said that the Voting Rights Act  was being violated and something had to change. He  rejected a  proposal to  break the village into 6 voting districts, one being heavily Hispanic. This next just amazes me. Vill;age officials suggested a method known as cumulative voting. This  system gave each resident 6 votes to apportion as they chose. Even more amazing this system is already used  for the Peoria, Il city council, the Amarillo, Tx school board and the Chilton County , Al county commission.

This whole approach just astounds me. It seems very easy to manipulate  plus the fact that it seems designed to achieve  certain pre-ordained  results. Can’t believe it isn’t being used in Cook County. Their system is probably more sophisticated.

An outfit called FairVote was hired as a consultant. The organization is a nonprofit election research and reform group. I looked up this organization and lo, and behold one of their advisory members is non other than Jesse Jackson,Jr. and one of their staunchest supporters is Harvard law professor and civil rights activist Lani Guinier. But, the organization takes great pains to state that it does not support, endorse or oppose any political party or candidate. Not sure if I buy that or not.

Anyway, back to Port Chester. When their wacky election took place, there were three Hispanic candidates  in the race. One of those folks managed to come in fourth, so I suppose the effort was  a success. What further in=terested me was that with all the efforts to get people to vote and vote the turnout, based on the numbers did not seem so good. Of course, how do measure voter turnout , multiply eligible voters by six?  Almost getting into Land of Oz stuff here.

I learned one more tidbit. FairVote has a chapter in North Carolina , so I may get an  opportunity to vote multiple times myself.

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July 24, 2010 - Posted by | Local Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

2 Comments »

  1. Note that the Department of Justice won this case when George Bush was president, and Judge Robinson was appointed by George Bush. The DOJ wanted single member districts, but Port Chester wanted to keep at-large elections and proposed cumulative voting. The judge accepted its choice.

    So Port Chester voters had a system that gave most of them a better chance to elect someone, and the results show that — winners were two Republicans, two Democrats and two candidates running outside major parties.

    Comment by Peter | July 25, 2010 | Reply

    • Seems that the goal was to elect a Hispanic which did occur. The small community in which I live faced a similar situation a number of years ago, the difference being that black representation on City Council was lacking. We went to a ward system and the result, in a community where blacks have a numerical majority, has been to achieve a racially balanced council with black candidates being elected as mayor two of the last three elections. I really prefer that system. Still not sure why Judge Robinson preferred this method. As you say, it did work in Port Chester but I would hope that it not become a ” cure-all ” approach. Thanks very much for the comment.

      Comment by tarheeltalker | July 25, 2010 | Reply


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