Port Chester votes to change election process

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PORT CHESTER -

The village of Port Chester voted Wednesday to permanently change the way people elect village trustees.

The referendum passed with 746 yes votes and 429 no votes.

For the past eight years, Port Chester has used a different method of voting for village elections.

The problems began back in 2008, when the U.S. Justice Department found Port Chester in violation of the Voting Rights Act because no Latino or African-American had ever been elected as trustee despite the fact that the majority of the people living in the village are Latino.

Village officials decided to try a radical system of voting that was put in place in the south to combat discrimination. It's called cumulative voting. The way it works is that during trustee elections, instead of one vote per candidate, each voter would be given the same number of votes as there are seats available.

For example, if candidates were vying for three open seats, a Port Chester voter gets three votes. The voter could use all three of their votes to back one candidate or spread them out.

While this system of voting did increase minority representation on the Port Chester Village Board, it did not prompt more Latinos to come out and vote.

Port Chester will become the first municipality in New York state to use the system permanently.

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