A U.S. District Court judge is calling for a new system of voting in the Ferguson-Florissant School District, one intended to bolster the ability of African-Americans to elect school board members of their choice. Judge Rodney Sippel — who struck down the school district’s voting methods in August — calls for a system involving so-called cumulative voting. Under such an approach, voters cast as many votes as there are candidates, distributing those votes among candidates as they choose. Unlike the current system, a voter could use all votes on a single candidate. In the ruling, the judge argues the system allows voters to “concentrate their full voting power behind their preferred candidate without requiring voters to give up any of the votes they are entitled to cast.” The new system is to go into effect in time for the board’s April election. The ruling requires that voters first be educated on the new system.
During a brief status hearing Tuesday morning, Sippel gave lawyers until next week to come up with a proposal on how to go about educating voters.
Cumulative voting is supported by the ACLU and NAACP, both of which are plaintiffs in the lawsuit against the school district’s current method of voting. It has also been deemed an acceptable remedy in similar litigation, according the judge’s ruling.
As it is, school board candidates run at-large, seeking votes across the school district. Critics have argued that the system has narrowed the possibility of electing minority candidates.