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Cumulative Voting Method Used In Alamogordo Election

July 22, 1987 GMT

ALAMOGORDO, N.M. (AP) _ A Hispanic businesswoman, the only minority in a field of eight candidates, won a City Commission seat Tuesday in an election that allowed voters to cast up to three votes for a single candidate.

Inez Moncada, 35, won one of the three at-large seats. The cumulative voting system was approved by a federal judge in March to help minorities win offices.

The system resulted from a compromise worked out in a voting rights lawsuit that contended the city’s election system discriminated against minorities.

Voters had the option of casting single votes for three separate candidates, giving two votes to one candidate and a single vote to another, or all three votes to one candidate.

The other two at-large seats went to Robert Downs, a real estate agent and retired Air Force colonel, and Larry Riordan, a utility company office manager.

Final vote totals showed Riordan the top vote getter with 2,418. Downs finished with 2,327 votes and Moncada with 2,281. The two incumbents, Don Carroll and Dorothy Watts, finished fourth and sixth respectively.

All eight of the candidates had asked the voters for all of their votes.

Deputy City Clerk Teresa Long said the election drew a heavy turnout, with 3,949 voters casting 11,499 votes. She attributed the heavier than normal turnout to the cumulative voting system.

Proponents of cumulative voting contended that by allowing voters to cast all of their votes for one candidate, a practice called ″plumping,″ minority groups would have a better chance to elect a candidate.

Nearly 30 percent of Alamogordo’s 24,030 residents belong to a minority group, according to the 1980 census.

The seven-member commission also includes four members elected from districts.