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.
The suit against the city, the college district and the William S. Hart Union High School District in Newhall alleged that Latinos, who make up 30 percent of the city’s population, could not amass enough votes to win representation. The Hart high school district is in the process of dividing into voting districts for future elections.
But the city and community college boards wanted to avoid splitting their jurisdictions into districts. They reached a mediated resolution in January to use cumulative voting instead, Shenkman said. Monday’s hearing was intended to confirm that cumulative voting is a legal remedy in California.