California city will use cumulative voting in local elections

Voters in Mission Viejo, California will cast ballots using a “cumulative” voting system in their local elections, allowing them to cast multiple ballots for a single candidate if they choose.

The “cumulative” voting system will be used to decide the five city council seats up for election that year. Voters will have five votes they can distribute among the candidates however they choose. If a voter wants to give all five votes to one candidate, they will have that option. The ultimate goal is to increse diversity in government.

The Orange County Register explains:

Experts have mixed opinions on cumulative voting, and there’s no definitive research on whether the system actually increases diversity in government, said David Rausch, a political science professor at West Texas A&M University.


Once voters understand cumulative voting, Rausch believes, the system benefits voters by giving them more control.


Still, he said some voters might see the system as unfair because they’re used to one vote per candidate. But, Rausch added, voters have the flexibility to cast ballots as they would with an at-large ballot, or an option to put their more votes behind a single candidate.

However, the paper reports Illinois scrapped a cumulative voting system in the 1980s because it led to vote trading and could give fringe political groups an advantage.