Missouri: Judge orders new system for voting for Ferguson-Florissant school board members | St. Louis Post-Dispatch

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.

California: Bill that would mandate district elections moves forward in Assembly | Santa Clarita Valley Signal

A bill that would force larger cities in California, including Santa Clarita, to use voting districts to elect council members is continuing to move through the state Assembly and has already passed further than a similar proposal did last year. Assembly Bill 278, introduced by Assemblyman Roger Hernandez, D-West Covina, recently passed the Appropriations Committee — the same committee where a similar bill died last year. AB 278 would require any general law city with a population of 100,000 or more to move to district-based elections, in which residents in specific areas would elect a single council member to represent their areas, rather than having a voice in every council member up for election. Santa Clarita has about 213,000 residents.

California: Vote for one candidate – several times: It could become legal in Santa Clarita elections | KPCC

Santa Clarita voters may become the first in California to elect city and community college officials by cumulative voting. The little-used system would allow voters to cast multiple votes for the same candidate. For example, in a City Council election to fill three seats, a Santa Clarita voter could cast three votes for just one candidate, or distribute votes to two or three candidates. After hearing arguments on Monday, Superior Court Judge Terry Green approved cumulative voting in Santa Clarita city and the Santa Clarita Community College District. The ruling could help resolve lawsuits claiming violations of the California Voting Rights Act, according to attorney Kevin Shenkman.  With cumulative voting, individuals who are part of a minority bloc of the population could amass their votes behind a single candidate and win a seat, Shenkman said. He represents two plaintiffs who had sued to eliminate the traditional at-large voting system used in Santa Clarita elections.

California: ‘Voting’ Part of Voting-Rights Settlement Not Actually Workable | SCV News

Despite various Santa Clarita Valley governing boards’ approval of election changes in response to California Voting Rights Act concerns, an outdated county system won’t be able to handle the changes for at least another four years, officials said. “Our current voting system both the devices we use at the polls and, more importantly, the tabulations system we use… can not run a cumulative voting system,” said Efrain Escobedo, governmental and legislative affairs manager for the Los Angeles County’s Registrar-Recorder’s Office. “It’s just the limitations of the technology,” he said, referring to a voting system created in the late 1960s. And there’s no statewide precedent for how cumulative voting — a system that would allow a voter to cast up to three votes for one candidate in a three-seat race — is to appear on the ballot. “There’s also no voting system currently approved for use in California that can actually do that, either,” he said.

California: Santa Clarita Votes To Settle California Voting Rights Act Lawsuit | KHTS

The city is set to move City Council elections to even-numbered years and employ cumulative voting. The decision was made in closed session before Tuesday’s City Council meeting, but it’s not going to affect the ballots that voters will have for the April 8 election, officials said. “The settlement represents an opportunity for all Santa Clarita citizens to have an opportunity to elect candidates of their choice — no longer will a bare majority be able to dominate 100 percent of the City Council,” said Kevin Shenkman, the lawyer for the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, Jim Soliz and Rosemarie Sanchez-Fraser. “(Soliz and Sanchez-Fraser) should be commended for their efforts to make that a reality.”

Editorials: Render gerrymandering obsolete | Rob Richie/HamptonRoads.com

Virginia has become one of the few true swing states in presidential elections and, in recent years, has experienced divided partisan control of its state legislature. You’d think that this would have prompted hotly contested state legislative races on Election Day, but in fact only 52 of 140 races had candidates from both major parties – including just 27 percent of elections for the House of Delegates. Another round of largely uncontested races is just the latest evidence of the failure of winner-take-all, single-member district elections.

Winner-take-all inherently represents voters poorly and tempts partisans to gerrymander outcomes. Although we need other changes like independent redistricting, it’s time to look for a better way grounded in our electoral traditions: fair voting, which is an American form of proportional representation in elections taking place in larger “superdistricts.”

New York: Port Chester faces new legal bill in failed voting rights case | The Journal News

The village’s short-lived bid to appeal its voting rights case — undertaken despite a taxpayer outcry — has added $75,000 in legal bills to the million-dollar cost of fighting the Justice Department’s 2006 lawsuit.

The village also owes $125,000 in legal expenses for plaintiff Cesar Ruiz and an undetermined amount for his legal expenses during the appellate phase.

A divided village Board of Trustees hired the law firm Jones Day in February to appeal the 2008 decision that deemed Port Chester’s former trustee election system in violation of the Voting Rights Act. A judge had found the old system — at-large voting for two trustees per year — prevented the Hispanic minority from electing their preferred candidates to the board.

New York: Court Shoots Down Port Chester NY Voting Rights Appeal | Port Chester Patch

Cumulative voting is here to stay, and Port Chester taxpayers are on the hook for thousands of dollars in attorney fees from the ill-fated effort to reverse the voting rights case. The decision marks the end of a divisive saga that included political battles, philosophical differences and lots of emotional feedback from people who live in the village.

In February, Port Chester’s Republican trustees voted to fight the legally well-armed Department of Justice and appeal the voting rights case. In addition to hiring two local attorneys, trustees hired high-powered lawyer Michael Carvin at a cost of $225,000. Carvin is the brother of Joseph Carvin, Rye Town’s Republican supervisor.

In April, a federal judge threw a bucket of cold water on the appeal effort with a written decision that the village “may not appeal a consent decree.” Still, Republican trustees and their lawyers pressed on, saying they had faith in Carvin and other attorneys, who said Port Chester had favorable odds in the case.