Municipal elections in the city of Mission Viejo will use a cumulative voting system in an effort to better represent the area’s minority voters. According to an update from Ballotpedia, “On July 26, 2018, Judge Walter Schwarm, of the Superior Court of Orange County, signed an order establishing the use of cumulative voting in Mission Viejo municipal elections beginning in 2020”. It is believed that the city will be the first in California to use the unusual cumulative voting system.
Cumulative voting has been used outside of California before in local elections in Alabama, Texas and Maryland. According to a description of cumulative voting by nonprofit election methods advocate FairVote:
In cumulative voting, voters cast as many votes as there are seats. But unlike winner-take-all systems, voters are not limited to giving only one vote to a candidate. Instead, they can put multiple votes on one or more candidates. For instance, in an election for a five-seat body, voters could choose to give one vote each to five candidates, two votes to one candidate and three to another, or all five votes to a single candidate. If a members of minority group work together and get behind a single candidate, “plumping” all of their votes on him or her, they can hope to get someone elected, even if they only make up a small share of the population.
For more information, reporter Spencer Custodio at the Orange County, California-based local newspaper, Voice of OC, wrote about the switch to cumulative voting and the intended results in an exhaustive article found here. Don’t forget to explore the world of election methods more in depth by visiting Democracy Chronicles Voting Method Central. As a bonus, here is a video from FairVote explaining the basics of the voting system: