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ped "'below. 

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are reasons for disciplinary action and may 
result in dismissal from the- University. 
University of Illinois Library 



MAY 1 k 1935 



The History of Cumulative Voting 

and Minority Representation 

in Illinois, 1870-1919 



Associate Professor of Political Science 
University of Kansas 



The principal object of this revision has been to bring the 
statistical tables and current information up to date, with such 
changes and additions to the text as the modified tables and the 
passing of events since the original publication have made neces- 
sary or advisable. The enactment of a valid primary law by 
the State of Illinois in 1910 has presented a new question and 
a chapter has been included discussing the effect of the primary 
system as disclosed by its use over a period of five biennial elec- 

The author is indebted to his colleague, Mr. Herman B. 
Chubb, who rendered material assistance in the revision. Dr. 
W. F. Dodd has read the manuscript and made important sug- 
gestions, particularly regarding present local conditions in Illi- 
nois. The author is also under obligations to Miss Katherine 
Summy for assistance in proof reading. 

B. F. M. 















Professor of Political Science 
in the University of Illinois 

In the view of the early meeting of a Constitutional Conven- 
tion in Illinois and the certainty that the question whether 
the existing scheme of minority representation shall be retained 
will be the subject of much discussion in the Convention, the 
publication of a revised and up-to-date edition of Professor 
Moore's useful and impartial study of the actual working of 
the cumulative system from 1872 to 1919 is most timely. He 
sets forth the reasons which led the Convention of 1870 to estab- 
lish a system which departed from the practice of the rest of 
the country and has not yet found favor in any other 
state, examines the somewhat extravagant claims that were 
put forth in support of it by its advocates, and details the actual 
operation of the scheme, in an effort to show to what extent if 
any the advantages claimed for it have been realized in prac- 
tice. The results show that with a few exceptions the principal 
minority party in each of the legislative districts has been able 
to elect at least one of the three members of the house of rep- 
resentatives to which the district is entitled, there having been 
only six instances since 1872 in which one party succeeded in 
electing all three members. The system has therefore resulted 
in practice in enabling the chief minority party in the state to 
elect more than one-third of the members of the house of rep- 
resentatives. But as the author points out the system does not 
necessarily insure proportional representation; its advocates in 
fact did not claim that it would have this result. Nevertheless, 
so far as the two dominant parties are concerned, it has in prac- 
tice resulted in what amounts to a system of proportional rep- 
resentation approximating mathematical exactness. Since the 
senate is not elected according to the cumulative system and 
since 50 per cent of its members are always ' ' holdovers ' ' it may 



and not infrequently does fall short of representing the pre- 
vailing political sentiment of the state at a given time. Thus 
in 1904-06 the principal minority party was represented in the 
senate by less than half the number of members it was entitled 
to on the basis of its vote at the last election. 

Mr. Moore also points out that the scheme does not insure 
proportional representation to minor political parties: the 
Socialists, Progressives, Prohibitionists and others. In fact, 
however, third parties have been represented in every legisla- 
ture since 1872, with six exceptions, though it has rarely been 
in proportion to their voting strength. 

While, as stated above, the principal minority party in each 
district has, with six exceptions since 1872, always succeeded in 
electing at least one of the three representatives, it has also hap- 
pened in 47 instances that it elected two of the three. In 1912 
this occurred in eleven districts. Such slips of the cog may be 
due as the author shows to the over-conservatism of the majori- 
ty party or to inaccurate estimation of its voting strength which 
causes it to nominate but one candidate ; it may also result from 
over estimation of its voting strength which leads it to nominate 
three candidates. This usually results in the division of its 
vote to the advantage of the minority party if the latter puts 
only two candidates in the field. Finally, and this is the most 
common, it may result from excessive cumulating or "plump- 
ing" of votes on a popular candidate to the detriment of his 
party running mate, or from the "knifing" of a nominee from 
another county in favor of the home man. 

Since the publication of the first edition of Professor Moore's 
study the primary law has been enacted and he very properly 
adds a chapter to the new edition, showing how the working of 
the cumulative system has been affected by the law. This law 
empowers the senatorial committee in each district to determine 
the number of candidates that shall be nominated by the party 
which it represents whereas formerly the number was deter- 
mined by the party managers. Prior to the enactment of the 
primary law a standing complaint of reform organizations such 
as the Legislative Voters ' League was that the majority party in 
each district rarely nominated more than two candidates and 
the minority not more than one. As no more candidates were 
nominated than there were representatives to be chosen the 


voter had little choice at the election. Since the enactment of 
the primary law there has been some increase in the number of 
candidates nominated (42 per cent of the Cook County districts 
have nominated four or more candidates; in 1918, 17 districts 
outside of Cook County did this) but the proportion is still com- 
paratively low so that in the majority of districts the voters 
still have no choice at the general election. This is regrettable, 
but as Professor Moore points out, where a party nominates more 
candidates than it can elect it will be exposed to defeat through 
a division of its voting strength. If each party for example were 
to nominate three candidates as the Legislative Voters' League 
advocated, the majority would probably elect all three members 
and the system of minority representation would break down. 

In his general evaluation of the merits and demerits of the sys- 
tem Professor Moore shows, as stated above, that it has with the 
few exceptions mentioned enabled the minority party to elect 
over one-third of the members of the house, and in this re- 
spect it has fulfilled the main purpose of its sponsors. But there 
is no evidence that it has resulted in the election of representa- 
tives of greater ability or larger breadth of view than were elec- 
ted under the old system prior to 1870 or are now elected in 
other states. Apart therefore from the advantage of insuring 
that the leading minority party be represented by a certain 
number of its own adherents the system does not appear to pos- 
sess any particular merit, if one considers only the intrinsic 
character of the legislature and the general interests of the state 
which it is intended to serve. 

The most serious defect of the system is to be found in the 
fact that it has in some cases resulted in the election of a 
house of representatives in which no political party had a major- 
ity. In such a house no party possesses power or responsibility : 
party strife is accentuated; paralysis is apt to characterize the 
proceedings and the output of constructive legislation is likely 
to be disappointing. 

Furthermore, it sometimes results under the cumulative sys- 
tem that the party which elects the governor has only a small 
majority of the representatives. Under these circumstances a 
few members may hold the balance of power, and the governor 
may find it impossible to carry out the legislative program 


upon which he may have made his campaign and which may 
have received the endorsement of the majority of the voters. 
To be sure this situation may, and sometimes does, happen in 
other states where the cumulative system is not in force, but it 
has happened more frequently in Illinois in recent years than 

On the whole, a study of the results, and they have been set 
forth by Professor Moore in a fair and judicial manner, does not 
quite convince one that the system is superior, if the general in- 
terests of the state as a whole be considered, to that of the other 
states. Certainly many of the advantages claimed for it in the 
beginning by its advocates have not been realized in fact, and it 
is doubtful whether the advantages that have been realized have 
not often been offset by the disadvantages. 


Elections by pluralities and the failure of large groups in 
each community to obtain representation in the government have 
led to the proposal of numerous remedies, the principal of which 
are indicated briefly below. 

(1) When but one officer is to be elected, plans of preferen- 
tial voting have been proposed whereby the voter may express 
his second or further choices. Thus, when there is but 
one official to be elected and three candidates, no one of the 
three may have a majority, and the expression of second and 
third choices may indicate an actual choice of the majority of 
the voters. Let us suppose that A has 400 votes, B, 300 votes and 
C, 300 votes. If A is declared elected upon the basis of this 
vote he is clearly a minority choice whereas 600 voters may pre- 
fer either B or C to A. The expression and count of a second 
choice does, it is claimed, produce a better representation of 
public sentiment and preferential voting of this character has 
been adopted in many parts of the world. There are a number 
of methods of counting second, third or further choices, of which 
the best known in this country (and perhaps the least satisfac- 
tory) is the so-called Bucklin system, first applied in Grand 
Junction, Colo., and now employed in Cleveland and other cities. 

(2) The limited vote. Where there are three or more per- 
sons to be elected, this plan has occasionally been adopted. For 
example, if three candidates are to be elected, each voter will be 
given but two votes, and the majority party will thus be able 
to elect only two candidates, if the minority party is fairly strong 
and is well-disciplined. Such a plan will normally give repre- 
sentation to the strongest minority party. For some years this 
plan was employed in the election of aldermen in New York City 
and in Boston and is also used in the election of judges in Penn- 

(3) Cumulative voting, of which the most striking example 



is that of Illinois, to which this study is devoted. The cumula- 
tive voting system provided for by the Illinois constitution of 
1870, applies to a district electing three members, and gives each 
voter three votes to cast three votes for one candidate, one 
and one-half votes each for two candidates, or one vote each for 
three candidates. 

(4) Proportional representation. The limited vote and cu- 
mulative voting obtain a representation of minorities, but 
strengthen the party organizations, and give representation or- 
dinarily to the two strongest parties only. The ideal of propor- 
tional representation is that representation shall, as nearly as 
possible, be in mathematical proportion to the votes cast by each 
separate group or party. If a district elects only three repre- 
sentatives, this limitation of number means necessarily that at 
most only three groups of voters can be represented, and that 
usually under almost any system, only the two stronger will have 
representation. Proportional representation therefore requires 
larger districts, each electing a greater number of persons. Sup- 
pose for example, a district which has 70,000 voters and elects 
7 members. A mathematical distribution of the votes of the 
seven members might be as follows: 

Republicans 30,000 votes 3 members 
Democrats 20,000 votes 2 members 
Progressives 10,000 votes 1 member 
Socialists 10,000 votes 1 member 

Even with larger districts and with a scheme that will count 
every vote effectively, exact mathematical results will, of course, 
not be obtained, but the result will be more nearly accurate 
than under cumulative voting. 

The several plans of proportional representation involve a 
considerable amount of technicality, though the actual opera- 
tion of the several systems is not particularly complex. The 
two plans most discussed are (1) the single transferable vote 
and (2) the list system. Under the single transferable vote 
system, the voter votes for but one candidate, no matter how 
many candidates are to be elected, but expresses also his second, 
third or fourth choices. If the candidate for whom he votes 
has more than enough votes to be elected, the surplus votes are 
transferred, in order of the choice expressed, to some other 


candidate who has not sufficient votes; in this manner the loss 
of votes is reduced to the minimum. Under the single trans- 
ferable vote system there are several methods of counting, the 
best known of which was devised by Thomas Hare. Under this 
scheme parties follow the usual custom of designating candi- 
dates, but independent candidates may also be freely nom- 
inated. 1 

The list system is best known through its use in Belgium. 
The system, as used in that country, involves the presentation 
of a list of candidates by each party, the voter then casting 
his ballot for the list and he may also express his preference 
among the candidates on the list. Each party obtains a number 
of seats in proportion to the votes cast for its list. The party 
arranges the order of the names on the list and the seats appor- 
tioned to each party go to the candidates in this order, unless 
the voters have expressed a different preference. Under the 
Belgian system the party thus not only designates the candidates 
but normally also determines the order in which they shall be 
declared elected. 

Other countries, while using the list system in its essentials 
as described above, have varied it in details. The variations 
are usually designed to lessen party control and give the voter a 
wider freedom of choice. 

Above are described the principal methods which have been 
used at various times in attempts to secure a fairer representa- 
tion in government councils than is afforded by the ordinary 
plurality method of election. A considerable number of other 
schemes have been applied but usually they are fundamentally 
based on some of the principles indicated above though they 
vary somewhat widely in details. 

The founders of the American Republic were thoroughly 
imbued with the spirit of equal political rights to all, but in a 
country so extensive and populous as the United States, direct 
participation in government by each citizen was obviously im- 
possible. To avoid this difficulty and yet apply the theory to 
a practical government a representative democracy was formed. 

i For a judicial discussion of the constitutional aspects of preferential 
voting see Brown v. Smallwood, 130 Minn., 492, and cases cited therein; 
for a different view see Orpen v. Watson, 87 N. J. Law, 69. 


It was soon apparent, however, that the scheme adopted se- 
cured only partial representation inasmuch as officials were 
sometimes elected by an actual minority of the voters and con- 
sequently large classes had no authorized agent in the legisla- 
tive councils. 

The movement for representative reform was not accidental 
but was the logical result of prevailing conditions and theories. 
During the first half of the nineteenth century the various states 
occupied themselves with liberalizing their governments and 
properly distributing political power among the legislative, ju- 
dicial and executive departments. When this was accomplished 
to some degree of satisfaction their attention was next turned 
to securing better representation for minority parties and fac- 
tions which had greatly increased because of the wide exten- 
sion of the elective franchise about the middle of the last cen- 
tury. In England there was a particular reason for advocating 
proportional representation, for when the number of voters was 
largely augmented in 1867, the aristocratic and landed classes 
feared that they would be entirely excluded from representa- 
tion in the government unless some form of minority represen- 
tation should be provided. The political leaders, however, were 
soon convinced that they had nothing to fear, at that time, from 
the newly made voters and consequently lost interest in the 

While active agitation for representative reform began about 
1865, its origin can be traced farther back. In 1814 Norway 
made some provisions in its constitution for the representation 
of minority parties. During the discussion on the Reform Bill in 
England in 1832, minority representation was considered but 
received no legal recognition. In the United States some of the 
states, where the general ticket plan of election prevailed, were 
sending single party delegations to Congress, and in 1842 that 
body directed that Representatives in Congress should be elec- 
ted by the district method, thus insuring better representation 
for both parties and localities. In 1845 the Danish government 
adopted a plan of proportional representation. 

The year 1844 marks the beginning of a permanent literature 
and systematic study of the subject. In that year appeared 
Thomas Gilpin's work entitled: "On the Representation of Mi- 
norities of Electors to Act with the Majority in Elected Assem- 


blies," but the volume attracted little attention at the time of 
its publication. Ten years later James Garth Marshall published 
his "Majorities and Minorities: Their Relative Rights," a book 
which contained the first printed account of the cumulative 
vote. In 1859 Thomas Hare produced his noted volume, "The 
Election of Representatives, Parliamentary and Municipal." 
John Stuart Mill became an advocate of representative reform 
in 1865 and popular interest in the scheme was now fairly well 

In England the discussion crystallized into law in 1867 when 
the limited vote was adopted for parliamentary districts re- 
turning three members. In 1870 the members of the English 
school boards were elected by the cumulative vote. The number 
of places to be filled was comparatively large, sometimes as 
many as fifteen, and the voters manipulated their ballots to 
suit their individual tastes, which inevitably resulted in con- 
fusion and inequalities. In the United States, during the period 
of the bitter struggle in Congress following the Civil War, the 
need of representative reform became evident, for not only was 
the Congress then sitting representative of only one section of 
the country but fresh in the minds of the people was the mem- 
ory of a great war, hastened, if not brought on, by the action 
of the governing bodies in which the radicals of both sections 
predominated to the exclusion of a large body of conservatives. 
In 1867 2 and 1869 3 Mr. Buckalew of Pennsylvania proposed 
in the Senate of the United States that the cumulative vote be 
applied to the election of Representatives in Congress. In 
1870 4 and again in 1871 3 the subject was debated in Congress, 
but this body was not inclined to make concessions to the Demo- 
cratic minority. 

Although the various representative reform bills failed in 
Congress more success was attained in the states. In 1867 
New York used the limited vote in the election of delegates to 
a constitutional convention. 6 A clause providing for minority 
representation in the state legislature was incorporated in the 

2 Congressional Globe, 40th Congress, 1st Session, 513. 

3 Congressional Globe, 40th Congress, 3rd Session, 320. 

* Congressional Globe, 41st Congress, 2nd Session, 4735, et seq. 
s Congressional Globe, 42nd Congress, 2nd Session, 63, 110. 
e Session Laws, 1867; Ch. 194, 286. 



Illinois constitution of 1870. The cumulative vote was applied 
to municipal elections in Pennsylvania in 1871 7 and to Wil- 
mington, North Carolina, in 1872, 8 but in both cases the laws 
authorizing this were soon repealed. In the latter year, in an 
attempt to break the power of Tammany, the cumulative vote 
was provided for in a new charter for the city of New York, 
but the Governor interposed his veto. 9 Pennsylvania applied the 
limited vote in 1873 to the election of certain judicial officers. 
By constitutional provisions the cumulative vote has been ap- 
plied to the election of directors in private corporations in eleven 
states. 10 

Popular interest in the reform waned after 1875 and for 
some years it made but little progress. Later, however, in- 
terest in the question revived both in the United States and 
in foreign countries and more recently slow but continued ad- 
vance has been made. Ohio " in 1884 and Michigan 12 in 1889 
made a limited application of the principle of minority repre- 
sentation, but in both cases the statutes applying the theory 
were held to be unconstitutional. 13 In 1891 South Dakota re- 
jected a propQsed constitutional amendment providing for mi- 
nority representation in the Legislature. About the same time 
several of the Swiss cantons provided for proportional repre- 
sentation, and in 1899 Belgium adopted a modification of the 
Swiss plan for the election of members to the lower house of 
the national Legislature. In 1900 Japan provided for the elec- 
tion of members to the popular branch of parliament by a pro- 
portional representation scheme of the single non-transferable 
vote type. 

During the last decade the movement for a more representa- 

7 Session Laws, 1871, 283. 

s Private Laws, Session 1871-72, 139. 

Public Papers of Governor John, T. Hoffman, 353 ; also Journal of the 
Assembly, New York, 1872, Vol. 2, 1596. This message discusses at con- 
siderable length the advantages and disadvantages of minority representa- 

10 HI., Neb., Cal., Pa., W. Va,, Miss., Idaho, Ky., N. Dak., Montana, Mo. 
Commons, "Proportional Representation." 

11 Session Laws, 1884, 121. 

12 Session Laws, 1889, 374. 

is State v. Constantine, 42 Ohio, 437; Maynard v. Board of Commission- 
ers, 84 Michigan, 228. 


tive system of electing members of deliberate bodies has made 
considerable progress. In several instances countries have ex- 
perimented with the idea of proportional representation in a 
restricted manner, as for example, electing a limited number of 
representatives under the system rather than applying the prin- 
ciple to the whole legislative body. 

In 1906 provision was made to elect the Finnish Diet by 
proportional representation, but later this was interfered with 
by Russia. In 1908 a statute was enacted providing for the 
election of councilmen in the Danish cities on the proportional 
basis, and in 1915 a law was passed providing for a system of 
proportional representation for parliamentary elections which 
is combined with a system of single member districts. The first 
election under the system was held in April, 1918. 14 

In 1909 Tasmania made general what had previously been 
applied only partially and provided for the election of all mem- 
bers of Parliament by a proportional scheme. In the same year 
Sweden arranged for the election of members of both houses 
of Parliament and the committees of those houses by the list 
system ; a similiar plan was also applied to the election of mem- 
bers of the county and municipal councils. Likewise in 1909 
South Africa applied the proportional representation idea to 
the election of members of the Senate and also to the elections 
in a limited number of local political units. 

In 1913 the Chinese Parliament was elected by a rather crude 
system of proportional representation. Two years later New Zea- 
land provided for the election of the legislative council by a pro- 
portional representation scheme, and also made the plan optional 
with the cities for the election of local officials. 

The Russian constituent assembly, chosen in 1917, was elected 
on a proportional basis. The same year Holland adopted the 
recommendation of a commission appointed to report on the sub- 
ject, and provided for the election of the lower house of Parlia- 
ment and for the provincial and municipal councils by a scheme 
of proportional representation based on the Hare system. In 
1918 the lower house of the New South Wales legislature was 
chosen on a proportional basis. Proportional representation is 

!* The system and the results under the first election are explained in the 
American Political Science Review for November, 1919. 


provided for in the new constitutions of Germany, Czecho-Slo- 
vakia and Poland. 

In 1919 the French Parliament after long discussion of the 
subject and much agitation throughout the country enacted a 
law providing for a system of proportional representation in 
the Chamber of Deputies. Hereafter every department will 
choose as many deputies as it has multiples of 75,000 inhabi- 
tants of French nationality. Remainders in excess of 37,500 
will choose an additional deputy. Departments whose popula- 
tion entitle them to more than six deputies will be divided into 
sections each of which will elect three deputies according to the 
list system. The first elections under the new law take place in 
November, 1919. 

In England in recent years the question of representative re- 
form has also been attracting attention. In 1906, in response to 
an address, a report was made by the Foreign Office to the 
House of Commons indicating what representative reforms had 
been made, or were in the process of being carried out, in various 
foreign countries. At the close of 1908 a Royal Commission was 
appointed to investigate the various schemes adopted or pro- 
posed in order to secure a fully representative character for 
popularly elected legislative bodies and to consider to what 
extent these systems might be applicable to the English elector- 
ate. This Commission conducted quite an elaborate investiga- 
tion. Because of the peculiar political conditions and traditions 
of England this Commission was unable to recommend for pre- 
sent adoption the transferable vote system for the election of pol- 
itical officers. The Commission, however, did recommend the 
use of the alternative vote in those constituencies returning more 
than two members. 

In 1910 Parliament passed an act authorizing all English and 
Welsh cities, at their option, to apply the proportional repre- 
sentation scheme in the election of local officials. In the Home 
Rule Bill for Ireland, passed in 1914, proportional representa- 
tion was provided for the Senate, as soon as popular elections 
should begin, and for 31 constituencies returning three or more 
members to the lower house. 

In 1918 "The Representation of the People Act," passed by 
Parliament, provided that the eleven University members of the 


House of Commons should be elected by the Hare System of 
proportional representation. The act also provided for the 
appointment of commissioners to prepare a scheme for the elec- 
tion of 100 members of the Commons on the principle of pro- 
portional representation for those constituencies returning three 
or more members. This commission was duly appointed and in 
a report rendered a short time later recommended that propor- 
tional representation be applied in certain districts, but did not 
propose any definite plan, and none has as yet been adopted. 

In the United States representative reform has also recently 
received a considerable amount of attention, mainly in the cities, 
and the idea has made no very definite progress in any political 
unit of a larger nature. However, in 1917, Congress arranged 
for a mild form of proportional representation in Porto Rico. 
In an act passed in March 15 of that year it is provided that five 
of a total of nineteen Senators shall be elected at large, each 
voter to have one vote and the five candidates receiving the high- 
est number to be declared elected. The act also provides that 
four representatives out of a total of thirty-nine are to be elec- 
ted at large by the same scheme. 

The civic awakening in American cities since the beginning 
of this century which has resulted in various changes in the 
structure of municipal government, such as the commission 
plan in varying forms and the more recent city manager, has 
also brought with it serious consideration of representative re- 
form. While the latter has been discussed in a considerable 
number of instances in connection with municipal reforms, in 
but a few cases up to the present has proportional representa- 
tion been actually adopted. 

In 1915 Ashtabula, Ohio, adopted a charter which provided 
for the election of a council of seven at large from the city by 
proportional representation, using the quota system. The first 
election under this charter was held in November, 1915. There 
were fourteen candidates for the seven places and 3,334 ballots 
were cast. Practical difficulties in counting the votes under this 
system did not seem to appear and the council elected was of a 
representative character. The second election was held in No- 
vember, 1917, and the immediate results seem to be satisfactory. 

is U. S. Statutes at Large, Vol. 39, 959. 


Boulder, Colorado, a city with a population of about 12,000, 
adopted in the latter part of 1917 a new charter providing for 
a council of nine members, three to be chosen every two years 
and each group of three to be elected by the Hare system of 
proportional representation. One election has been held under 
this charter, and no practical difficulties seem to have been en- 
encountered in either casting or counting the votes. 

In the early part of 1918, Kalamazoo, Michigan, adopted a 
charter which provides for a city council of seven members to be 
elected at large under the Hare system of proportional repre- 
sentation. At the first election held under the new charter, 
twenty-three candidates appeared. Unfortunately issues other 
than local become involved. The election was held during war 
times and questions of loyalty were injected into the Campaign. 
One candidate classed as a socialist and radical was bitterly at- 
tacked. Nevertheless lie was elected, and this at the time caused 
considerable dissatisfaction and adverse criticism on the part of 
certain classes. However, the fact that such a candidate could 
be elected under the circumstances is a good proof of the repre- 
sentative results secured by the system, as a limited number of 
voters, which otherwise would have been hopelessly outnumbered, 
were able to select the candidate of their choice. 

That a theory which contains so much inherent justice has 
failed to receive wider application is due to a variety of causes, 
the most important of which are the practical defects of the vari- 
ous plans tried and the failure to protect them from abuse. 
Moreover, the enactment of such a law involves giving large 
power to an opposing minority and such self-sacrifices are not 
common in the history of political parties. 

Since the adoption of the proportional representation scheme 
by the cities of this country has been so recent, it is as yet im- 
possible to ascertain with any certainty the merits of the plan 
as determined by actual tests in the municipalities. In two 
states, however, Illinois and Pennsylvania, minority representa- 
tion has extended over a period of time sufficiently long to 
afford it an opportunity to work out logical results. The con- 
stitution of Pennsylvania, in a special provision for Philadelphia, 
provides that in the election of city magistrates, "No voter 
shall vote for more than two-thirds of the number of persons 


to be elected when more than one are to be chosen. ' ' 1G The 
constitution also states that "Whenever two judges of the su- 
preme court are to be chosen for the same time of service, each 
voter shall vote for one only, and when there are three to be 
chosen he shall vote for no more than two." 17 Although ex- 
cellent judges have generally been chosen, yet the limited vote 
seems to be regarded as a useless complication and will probably 
be dropped at the first opportunity. 

is Constitution of 187S, Art, 5, Sec. 12. 
17 Constitution of 1873, Art. 5, Sec. 16. 


In Illinois the defects of the second constitution, especially 
the legislative provisions, were constantly becoming more ap- 
parent to political leaders, and in 1862 an unsuccessful attempt 
was made to remodel the organic law of the state. 1 As soon as 
the Civil War was over constitutional reform was again con- 
sidered, and the question of calling a convention was referred 
to the people for decision. Although there was practically no 
opposition the indifference was so great that the proposition was 
carried by a very small majority. Delegates were duly elected 
and the convention met December 13, 1869. The assembly was 
probably the ablest body that ever met in the state, a large num- 
ber of the members having had extensive experience in public 
affairs. The first week was consumed in organizing and on De- 
cember 20th the standing committees were announced. 2 One 
of these was designated as the Committee on Electoral and Re- 
presentative Reform, Joseph Medill of Chicago being chairman. 
The fact that this committee included some of the best known 
and ablest men in the assembly shows how important the con- 
vention considered the need of representative reform. The peo- 
ple at large, however, judging from the small number of peti- 
tions sent in to the committee, took but little interest in the sub- 
ject. A few petitions proposing various plans of proportional re- 
presentation were received, and at least one remonstrance against 
the adoption of any such innovation was presented. 3 

On February 10, 1870, the committee made a report em- 
bodied in five sections. The first provides for the ratio of sen- 
atorial representation; the second, that three times the number 
required for a senatorial ratio should constitute a senatorial 

1 See O. M. Dickerson, ' ' The Constitution of 1862, ' ' University of Illi- 
nois Studies, Vol. 1, No. 9. 

2 Debates and Proceedings, Constitutional Convention, Vol. 1, 75. 

3 Hid., 703. 



district, each of which should choose three senators. Similiar 
provisions are made for representatives and representative dis- 
tricts. Sections three and four are "floater" clauses, providing 
that in case any district should have a fraction of population 
above the ratio so large that being multiplied by the number of 
regular sessions of the legislature in a decade the result should 
be equal to one or more ratios, that district should elect an 
extra representative or senator in those years in which the frac- 
tion so multiplied would produce a whole ratio. 

The fifth section states that "In all elections of Senators and 
Kepresentatives each qualified voter shall be entitled to as many 
votes as there are Senators or Representatives to be elected by the 
same constituency and may distribute them (or equal fractions 
thereof), equally or unequally among the candidates or concen- 
trate them upon one, at his option ; and the candidate highest in 
votes shall be declared elected. ' ' * 

The committee's recommendations were taken up in the con- 
vention on May 6th and the chairman then offered a substitute 
for the previous report. This substitute is much shorter than 
the original provision and consists of but three sections. The 
first provides that the apportionment for the Senate shall be 
made every ten years, beginning with 1871 ; the second, that the 
House of Representatives shall consist of three times the number 
of the members of the Senate, and that three Representatives 
shall be elected in each senatorial district. 

Section three contains the cumulative voting provision and 
is as follows: "In all elections of Representatives aforesaid 
each qualified voter may cast as many votes for one candidate 
as there are Representatives to be elected, or may distribute the ' 
same, or equal parts thereof, among the candidates as he may 
see fit; and the candidate highest in votes shall be declared 
elected." 5 

The report also recommended that these sections be submitted 
to the people as a distinct proposition, separate from the main 
body of the constitution, for their rejection or approval. 

It will be seen from the above that cumulative voting was 
to be restricted to election of members of the lower house of the 

* Debates and Proceedings, Constitutional Convention, Vol. 1, 561. 
s Ibid., Vol. 2, 1726 


legislature instead of applying to both houses as in the original 
report. Also the "floater" idea was entirely abandoned. 

The argument accompanying the report is a summary of the 
theories of the times regarding minority representation. The 
first part is devoted to a review of the general theory of the 
subject, pointing out the injustice and inequalities of the usual 
majority rule and showing how unrepresentative most delibera- 
tive bodies really are. An argument is then presented for the 
particular system recommended. It is asserted that obviously 
single member districts could give no opportunity for anything 
but majority rule, while two member districts might easily afford 
the minority undue power, hence the smallest district that would 
make minority representation possible is a three-member one. 
The districts should be as small as possible consistent with the 
ends sought, so as to make the members representative of lo- 
calities and also do as little violence as possible to existing cus- 

The argument which applies especially to local conditions and 
at the time the most effective one in the entire report, is that 
referring to sectional representation. It is stated that since 
1854, with few exceptions, all the senators and representa- 
tives in the northern half of Illinois had been of one political 
party, while the legislators from the other half of the state, with 
equally few exceptions, had been of the opposing party. In 
round numbers, 100,000 Republicans living south of the state 
capital had been practically disfranchised and almost as many 
Democrats in the northern districts had suffered from the same 
discrimination. It is pointed out that if alternate districts 
throughout the state were Republican and Democratic, condi- 
tions would not be so bad as where an entire section was wholly 
under the domination of one or the other party, but such was 
distinctly not the case. An examination of statistics showed 
also that in the previous legislature a minority of electors had 
elected a majority of representatives in that body. 

The freedom and power of the voter is also emphasized in 
the report. Under the ordinary election method, when more 
than one official is to be chosen for an office, if a voter objects 
to any one candidate, and refuses to vote for him, he simply 
loses a portion of his privilege. Under the cumulative method, 


or "free ballot," as it was called, he may transfer his entire 
vote to other candidates and hence lose nothing. The argument 
concludes with a glowing account of the benefits which would 
result from the proposed reform. "The adoption of this great 
reform would do much towards abating the baneful spirit of 
partisan animosity and removing the temptations and opportuni- 
ties which now exist for the corrupt use of money at elections. 
It will also tend powerfully to relieve the voter from the des- 
potism of party caucuses, and at the same time constrain party 
leaders to exercise more care in selecting candidates for law- 
makers. There is nothing which will more effectually put an 
end to packing conventions than arming the voter with the three- 
shooter or triple ballot, whereby he may fire 'plumpers' for the 
candidate of his choice and against those of his aversion. It 
will increase the usefulness of the legislature by improving the 
membership. It will enable the virtuous citizens to elect the ab- 
lest and purest men in their midst and secure to the legislative 
councils a large measure of popular confidence and respect. ' ' 6 
After briefly considering the report, the convention, by a 
large majority, adopted all its sections, but as it was distinctly 
understood that this was simply referring the question to the 
people the vote did not necessarily reflect the sentiment of the 
convention, nor was there any debate on the subject which 
would indicate the individual opinions of the members. At the 
popular election the people, by 99,022 affirmative and 70,080 
negative votes, adopted the scheme. The advocates of the meas- 
ure rejoiced that Illinois was thus the first state to inaugurate 
this democratic and beneficent reform in the choice and con- 
struction of the legislature, and was thus to stand as the pioneer 
in a movement which they thought would strengthen and purify 
our political system and which would eventually be universally 
applied. Across the Atlantic the "London Times," in its issue 
of January 13, 1870, in discussing the subject, said: "And in 
Illinois, and what Illinois thinks today the Union will think to- 
morrow, the discussion is passing from theory to practical ap- 
proval. ' ' 

e Debates and Proceedings, Constitutional Convention, Vol. 1, 563. 



In the preceding chapter the conditions prevailing at the 
time of the adoption of the cumulative system of voting in 
Illinois and the advantages which the supporters of the measure 
promised, have been described. It is now proposed to consider 
the actual results of nearly fifty years ' practical test of the plan 
and to ascertain, as far as possible, to what extent the method 
has justified the expectations of its advocates. 

A question that logically arises at once is, does the cumulative 
voting system always give in each district a minority party 
representation? The answer to this question, with a few rare 
exceptions which will be noted later, can be given definitely and 
decisively in the affirmative. In every senatorial district in the 
state, with the few exceptions mentioned, at least two parties 
and occasionally three have been represented in the lower House 
of the Legislature. The time-honored and usual practice is for 
the majority party to have two representatives and the minority 
one, with ocasionally a third party candidate defeating one of 
either the two principal party nominees. Although there have 
been biennial elections in each of the fifty-one districts since 
1872 under the present constitution, in but six instances have 
all three representatives been the regular nominees of one party. 1 
In several other instances the Republicans have had nominally 
three members but in these cases one or two of the representa- 
tives ran on independent tickets as Independent Republicans, 

i These instances are: District No. 38 in the 36th General Assembly 
(1888-1890) when the Democrats had three representatives. Districts Nos. 
5 and 10 in the 40th Assembly (1896-98) where there were three Bepub- 
licans in both cases. District No. 27 in the 47th Assembly (1910-12) when 
the Democrats had three representatives. Districts Nos. 10 and 14 in the 
51st Assembly (1918-20) when there were three Republicans elected in each 



and were not regular nominees of the party. 2 This was espe- 
cially true of the elections in 1874 for the Twenty-ninth Assem- 
bly, when in many districts the Democrats nominated no can- 
didates and helped elect the independents. 

The figures show that the cumulative method has in practic- 
ally, all cases given a minority party representation, but this 
does not necessarily imply that it gives exact proportional re- 
presentation. The originators of the scheme did not assert that 
it would secure proportional representation to any degree of 
exactness but contented themselves with calling the plan minor- 
ity representation. It is a mistake to suppose that the system 
is based primarily on the proportional idea, yet so far as the two 
dominant parties are concerned it has led to a proportional re- 
presentation approaching mathematical exactness, as is indicated 
by Table I. 

Absolute conclusions cannot be drawn from this table for 
any one year because of the fact that but half of the Sen- 
ate is renewed at any one election. Hence, there are at every 
session 50 per cent of "holdovers" in the Senate, who may or 
may not represent the present majority party in their respective 
districts, and this may operate to prevent the Senate from being 
as representative as the House. As a whole the table indicates 
how nearly each House has come to representing the prevailing 

2 The following table indicates districts and time of such occurrences: 
1874 29th General Assembly, District 15, 1 regular and 2 Independent 

1874 29th General Assembly, District 20, 2 regular and 1 Independent 

1874 29th General Assembly, District 23, 2 regular and 1 Independent 

1874 29th General Assembly, District 28, 2 regular and 1 Independent 

1874 29th General Assembly, District 29, 2 regular and 1 Independent 

1874 29th General Assembly, District 30, 2 regular and 1 Independent 

1874 29th General Assembly, District 30, 2 regular and 1 Independent 

1874 29th General Assembly, District 46, 1 regular and 2 Independent 

1886 35th General Assembly, District 16, 2 regular and 1 Independent 





Legislators not Mem- 
bers of Republican or 
Democratic Parties 

Ratio of Democratic t 
Republican Member 
expressed in Per Cen 


.141:11. ip< 


ie<j ut paesajdxg 
sa^o A uT30ttqnd8$[ o^ 

of State 





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political opinion through a series of years, and a close correspon- 
dence will be found between the ratios indicated in columns 
5 and 7 of the table. It will be observed that, except in two 
instances (1874 and 1884) when the two parties approximated 
proportional representation in both houses, the lower house 
comes much nearer indicating the relative strength of the two 
dominant parties than does the Senate. The variation in the 
House in 1874, when the minority Democratic party had con- 
siderably less members than it was proportionately entitled to, 
was due to the Independents winning 41 seats 3 at the expense of 
the Democrats. The variation in 1912 when the Democrats, then 
the plurality party, had more than their proportional share, was 
due to the Progressives splitting the Republican vote to the ad- 
vantage of the Democrats. The variation in 1902 can only be 
explained by unusual local conditions, there being no less than 
fifteen * so-called parties represented by candidates at the gen- 
eral election. This alignment apparently operated at the ex- 
pense of the Democrats. In all other years the percentage of 
votes cast corresponds fairly closely to the percentage of mem- 
bers of the party in the House. 

The Senate shows a wide variation. In 1904 and 1906, the 
minority party had less than half the number of senators it 
was entitled to as compared with the majority party, while all 
the years (1874 and 1884 excepted) show a large discrepancy, 
the majority, as is to be expected, usually though not always 
having more members than its just proportion. In this con- 
nection it should be remembered that senators and representa- 
tives are elected from the same districts. 

It is mathematically demonstrable that any party which is 
able to poll more than one-fourth of the votes in a district may, 
by "plumping", that is, casting all three votes for one man, 
elect a representative. That a comparatively small vote can 
thus elect a member presumably would operate for the benefit 
of third parties, but as a matter of fact the minor parties have 
had but few representatives in the House. The total vote which 

a See Moses, Illinois: Historical and Statistical, Vol. 2, 1189. 

* Republican, Democratic, Prohibition, Socialist, Socialist Labor, Peoples, 
Single Tax, Independent, Independent Republican, Independent Democrat, 
Independent Labor, Public Ownership, Union Labor, Progressive Labor and 


they have cast in the state as a whole has been quite large, yet 
it seldom happens that any minor party has more votes than 
the weaker of the two large parties in any one district. How- 
ever, with the exception of 1872, 1892, 1894, 1900, 1908, and 
1918, third party men have been in every legislature. 

Table 1 shows to what extent the cumulative vote affords 
proportional representation when only the two dominant parties 
are considered. Table II gives the total legislative vote, the 
vote by parties, and the actual and proportional representation 
of each party in the House of Representatives from 1910 to 

The columns indicating the number elected (3) and the mathe- 
matical proportion to which the parties would have been en- 
titled (4), show that the larger parties gained at the expense 
of the smaller ones, although in 1912 the Progressive party ob- 
tained all the seats to which it would have been entitled upon 
an exact proportional basis. 

Opponents of the cumulative method have called attention to 
the large number of votes cast in the state by the minor parties 
which elect few or no candidates. In the election of 1914, the 
Progressive and Socialist parties and Independents had in the 
\aggregate 476,875 votes (not voters), which was about seven- 
teen per cent of the total vote, yet all these combined elected but 
four members of the House. This simply establishes what has 
already been asserted, that the cumulative voting plan does not 
claim to be primarily a proportional representation scheme, but 
a minority party representation device, and the tables and fig- 
ures cited above indicate how far the system gives a minority 
party representation and to what extent it gives, or fails to give, 
proportional representation to all parties. 

While it is true that minor parties receive no great benefit 
from the scheme, the defect may not be really so great in prac- 
tice as it appears. The principle of government by parties is 
firmly fixed in American politics, the few third party mem- 
bers of legislative bodies are not taken into the councils of 
either of the dominant parties, and, except in the unusual cases 
where they happen to hold the balance of power, they are given 
but little consideration and have but little opportunity to exert 
any influence. Moreover, where a large number of parties are 
represented, a legislative body almost inevitably degenerates 





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into a mere debating society and hence legislates with difficulty. 
This is well illustrated by the Twenty-ninth assembly, when in 
the Senate there were 24 Republicans, 19 Democrats and 9 In- 
dependents, Liberals, etc. In the House, the Eepublicans had 
69 members, the Democrats 42 and there were 41 Independents 
and others difficult to classify. 5 The proceedings of the as- 
sembly were marked by disgraceful scenes and personal combats, 
and finally it adjourned with but a few results to show for its 
labors. Theoretically it may be very proper and just for each 
faction to be represented in exact proportion to its voting 
strength, but experience scarcely bears out the practical exped- 
iency of such a theory. 

Since at legislative elections each voter is allowed "to mul- 
tiply himself three times" at the polls, the 476,875 votes cast 
in the state securing but four legislators in 1914, represent ap- 
proximately 158,958 voters. In this connection it is only neces- 
sary to point out that the same year in the state elections, 625, 
148 votes were cast for United States Senator and 522,999 votes 
for Treasurer, which elected no official and were entirely lost 
or wasted. 

In Cook County in 1918, sixteen out of nineteen districts 
elected Senators and 128,932 votes failed to secure representa- 
tion. Had elections been held in all districts and the ratio of 
ineffective votes remained the same for the three districts as in 
the other sixteen there would have been about 153,106 votes 
lost in the county as compared with about 16,271 adherents of 
minor parties who cast 48,813 votes in Cook County and whose 
votes were lost in the election to the House of Representatives. 

Although the cumulative method does not secure exact propor- 
tional representation for all parties, it has at least the virtue of 
approximating it much more closely than does the ordinary ma- 
jority system and with far less waste of votes than usually pre- 

It is evident from a consideration of Table I, page 30, that 
where the system of minority representation prevails, gerry- 
mandering is largely shorn of its viciousness. When some mi- 

s Figures taken from Moses, Illinois: Historical and Statistical, 829. 
These figures do not entirely harmonize with newspaper accounts, due prob- 
ably to the difficulty of classifying some members. 


nority party is practically certain of securing at least one mem- 
ber out of three in each district, the gross inequalities and in- 
justice that frequently prevail as a result of the gerrymander 
must be greatly reduced. In Massachusetts in 1892 it required 
16,560 Democrats to elect one State Senator and only 6,182 
Kepublicans to accomplish the same result. In other words, one 
Republican equaled two and two-thirds Democrats. In 1894 
Democratic members of the lower house of the General Assem- 
bly of New York received an average of 21,783 votes and the 
Republicans 6,341. In Michigan the same year, using the vote 
for Governor as a basis, the Republicans with 237,215 votes 
elected 99 members of the lower house of the legislature while 
the Democrats with 130,823 votes secured but one. In Ohio in 
1892 one Republican vote for legislators was equal to nearly two 
and one-fourth Democratic votes. 6 In Illinois in 1912, the Demo- 
crats on an average elected a member of Congress for every 
23,059 votes cast, while it required 72,988 Republican votes to 
elect a member. In the Missouri congressional elections in 1914 
a Democratic vote was five times as effective in electing a mem- 
ber as was a Republican vote. In the same year in Iowa, 159, 
232 Democratic votes elected one Congressman while 207,472 Re- 
publican votes elected ten members. In Illinois in the elections 
of 1916, each Democratic Congressman received on an average 
92,037 votes, while the average for the successful Republican 
candidates was 33,158. In Illinois in 1918 it required 14,238 
Republican and 23,285 7 Democratic votes to elect a State Sena- 
tor, while for the House, with the cumulative method, in the 
same year 16,070 Republicans and 17,309 Democratic votes elec- 
ted a Representative. The last apportionment was made 
in 1901 when the Republicans had a majority in both houses, 
and they were probably as keenly alive to the party advantage 
as any body of legislators. While the House vote shows some 
variation and can scarcely be regarded as ideal, nevertheless it 
has none of those glaring inequalities so frequently prevalent 

Figures for Mass., N. Y., Michigan, Ohio, compiled from statistics 
given in Commons ' ' Proportional Representation. ' ' 

1 1n 1918 out of 26 districts, 18 Republican Senators were elected by a 
vote of 255,299 and 8 Democrats by a vote of 186,284. The Socialists 
polled 27,560 votes for the Senate. 


as the result of the inherent injustice of the majority system 
combined with the consummation of political art in juggling dis- 
trict boundary lines. 

The constitution provides that "In all elections of Repre- 
sentatives aforesaid, each qualified voter may cast as many 
votes for one candidate as there are Representatives to be elect- 
ed, or may distribute the same, or equal parts thereof, among 
the candidates as he shall see fit. ' ' 8 Leaving the voter really 
free, without the restrictions of party discipline, to cast these 
three votes as he sees fit might easily lead to an enormous waste 
of votes by "plumping" on one candidate, thus giving him far 
more votes than necessary to elect, while a minority by judic- 
iously distributing its votes might elect two candidates and se- 
cure more than its just share of power. 

It is frequently asserted by the opponents of the cumulative 
method that by means of it minority parties do often secure 
undue representation. Whether this assertion is correct or 
not depends very largely upon one's view regarding the rights 
of minorities. If, as asserted by some violent partisans, the 
minority has few or no rights that must be respected by the ma- 
jority, and as the majority party alone is responsible for 
policies or legislation, this party should have a free hand, 
then the cumulative vote does give a minority party excessive 
representation. If, however, the more sane and just assump- 
tion is made that a minority has certain rights which a majority 
is ethically bound to respect, and that the minority is entitled 
to about the same ratio of representation in the legislative 
body as it bears to the whole body politic, there is still some 
question as to whether the minority does not secure more re- 
presentation than it justly deserves. The possibility of this may 
be illustrated mathematically by the following hypothetical 
case. The majority of a district casts 18,000 votes and the mi- 
nority 16,000. A and B are majority and C and D are minority 
candidates. A, for some reason, attracts more than his share 
of votes and receives 11,000, leaving 7,000 for B. The minority 
candidates run more evenly and each receives 8,000 votes. The 
result manifestly is that a party, while casting an actual minor- 
ity of the total vote, has elected two out of three members. This 

* " 

s Article IV, Sec. 7. 


is an undesirable condition, but one which actually occurs so 
seldom that it does not constitute a very formidable objection. 
Such inequalities are found occasionally but almost invariably 
in districts where the two parties are of nearly equal voting 
strength. In some cases the defect has been the result of 
"plumping", but frequently such miscarriages occur in dis- 
tricts so close that a few votes either way would change the re- 
sult of the election. 

Table III indicates the districts in which such mishaps have 
occured and the vote in each case. 

It will be seen that there have been forty-seven cases in which 
the minority clearly had an undue share of representation. In 
six cases (Nos. 3, 13, 15, 22, 23, 26) this was caused by over- 
conservatism of the party managers or by inaccurate estimation 
by the dominant party of its voting strength, as shown by its 
failure to nominate more than one candidate. In eight in- 
stances (Nos. 1, 8, 9, 11, 14, 20, 28, 42) the contest was so close, 
and such a small number of votes would have turned the scale, 
that a party which thus lost a representative could have but 
little ground for complaint of injustice. In three instances 
(Nos. 4, 34 and 47) the majority failed to elect its quota be- 
cause it had three candidates in the field. In ten instances, 
(Nos. 31, 32, 33, 35, 36, 37, 38, 40, 43, 46), a party failed to 
elect its due quota because of the fact that one or more of the 
opposition parties nominated but one candidate and concen- 
trated on him, while the losing party divided its vote between two 
candidates and consequently failed to secure the representation 
to which the number of its voters entitled it. In the remain- 
ing twenty cases there is evidence of "plumping" to a greater 
or less extent within the party. This was sometimes caused by 
the apparent great personal popularity of one candidate, some- 
times because one was backed by an aggressive "machine," but 
more frequently where two or more counties are joined to 
make up a district one county "knifed" a candidate from an- 
other and "plumped" for the "home" man, thus getting local 
revenge at the expense of the party and of fair representation. 

A study of Table III shows the years 1910, 1912 and 1914 
to have the greatest number of districts in which a minority 
elected a majority of the representatives. This may be explain- 










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dicates the 
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1916, Dis 



ed in 1910 because of the dissatisfaction of the people with 
political conditions resulting in a vigorous campaign waged 
against corrupt legislative methods. Bribery and corruption 
in Illinois had become a matter of national disgrace. Another 
fact, which, combined with the cumulative vote, made unequal 
representation possible in 1910 was the very close vote of the 
leading parties in the 34th and 42nd districts. Furthermore, 
the insurgent Republican movement did much to disrupt Re- 
publican strength. 9 In 1912 the miscarriages which occurred in 
eleven districts were due to the coming into existence of a strong 
third party, which developed unforeseen strength and upset the 
calculations of the committees which determined the number of 
nominees to be presented. In nine of these districts Progres- 
sive candidates were elected and in two Socialists gained seats. 
In 1914 the discrepancy was mainly due to the Progressive vote, 
an aftermath of the great campaign waged in 1912. The years 
1916 and 1918 are again normal, there being only one instance 
of excessive representation in 1916 and none in 1918. 

From the viewpoint of party representation in the legislature, 
these cases offset each other to a considerable extent. Thus in 
1912, with 11 cases of over-representation by a minority, one 
major party lost five seats and gained the same number; the 
other major party lost six seats and gained three, a net loss of 
three, which were gained by two minor parties. 

Table III covers a period of 24 elections in 51 districts, the 
minority securing more than its due share of representatives in 
about four per cent of the total number of elections. Whether 
due to "plumping" or other causes the proportion of "mishaps" 
is small and the system has so seldom been subverted in such a 
manner as to defeat the will of the majority that there can be 
no serious accusation against the cumulative method in this re- 

It has been asserted that because of the peculiar method of 
electing representatives, the party carrying the state elections 
may fail to secure the majority in the legislature to which it is 
entitled. The example cited is that of the year 1890, when the 
Democrats, for the first time in years, secured the small number 
of state officers elected that fall. In the Senate the Republicans 

9 For parties and votes cast, see Table II. 


had 27 and the Democrats 24 members. In the House there 
were 73 Republicans, 77 Democrats and 3 Farmers' Alliance 
members, the latter thus holding the balance of power on joint 
ballot. The above figures show that so far as the House was con- 
cerned the Democrats did have a small majority, and the failure 
to secure a majority on joint ballot was due to the non-repre- 
sentative character of the Senate, since of the 26 Senators who 
held over 16 were Republicans. A more recent instance in which 
no party had a working majority in the House occurred in 1912 
when the Democrats elected 72 members, the Republicans 52, 
the Progressives 26 and the Socialists 3. In this instance also 
there can be no complaint of injustice against the cumulative 
vote since the Democrats cast a plurality of votes in the state in 
1912 and also had a plurality of members in the House. 

Partisans are inclined to assert that great harm may be done 
the majority by a minority securing undue representation at 
certain critical times. This was most apparent when in former 
times a United States Senator was to be elected by the legisla- 
ture and the classical example given is the senatorial election 
of 1877. In the elections of 1876 the Republicans cast for Presi- 
dent 278,232 votes and the Democrats 258,601. In the legisla- 
ture which assembled in 1877 as the result of the fall elections, 
there were in the Senate 21 Republicans, 22 Democrats and 8 
Independents. In the House the Republicans counted 79, the 
Democrats 67 and 7 Independents, thus giving a small faction 
the balance of power on joint ballot. The Independents clung 
obstinately to their Senatorial candidate (Judge David Davis) 
and finally the Democratic vote was transferred to him, thus 
giving the required majority, and the Republicans failed to 
secure an office they claimed was justly theirs. Such an occur- 
rence is simply an illustration of the occasional extraordinary 
influence of a small group holding the balance of power. This 
may and does happen under any system of election and is not 
a defect peculiar to the cumulative system. Indeed, in this case 
the Republicans had a majority in the House, elected by the 
cumulative method. 

Another objection to minority representation is that in case 

/ of the death or resignation of a House member the majority 

party would elect the new member of that district regardless of 


the politics of the ex-member. In exceptional cases, when the 
vote is close and party lines tightly drawn, this might give a 
party a majority to which it is not justly entitled and might 
be of considerable importance. In many legislatures in Illinois 
vacancies have been caused by death or resignation, yet no great 
injustice has ever been worked in filling these and the likeli- 
hood of such events causing party disaster is so remote as to be 
scarcely worthy of consideration. 10 

Still another objection is to be found in the fact that the 
House of Representatives elected under the cumulative system 
may be controlled by a different party from that which is in 
control of the executive department. This was the case in 
1915-16. This situation may exist but it also occurs in other 
states where the cumulative system does not prevail ; and is due 
to the election of members of the legislature in the middle of 
the governor's term. 

10 What has actually happened has been exactly the reverse of the above. 
In 1885 on the death of a member of the House, Senator Logan by con- 
summate political skill secured the election of a Eepublican member from 
a strongly Democratic district, and was as a result, elected to succeed him- 
self as United States Senator. 


Prior to the campaign of 1904 the only legislation for the 
control of party nominations in Illinois had been aimed at cor- 
rupt practices in party caucuses and conventions. 1 With the 
new century came an insistent demand for reform in the me- 
thod of nominating candidates for public office. This demand 
for reform was taken up by the press of the state, and resulted 
in the submission of a Public Policy question to the people at 
the November election of 1904. This question was worded as 
follows: " Shall the State Legislature amend the Primary 
Election Law so as to provide for party primaries at which the 
voter will vote under the Australian ballot directly for the can- 
didate whom he wishes nominated by his party." 

Upon this question the affirmative vote was 590,976 and the 
negative vote 78,446, the question obtaining a distinct majority 
of the total vote cast at the election. 

In his message of January 4, 1905, the retiring governor 
recommended that the General Assembly enact a direct primary 
law. The incoming governor in his inaugural address on Janu- 
ary 9, 1905, advocated primary legislation. The legislature re- 
sponded to public sentiment as expressed at the polls and to the 
executive recommendations and the first general primary law was 
enacted on May 18, 1905. 2 Before there was an opportunity to 
put this law into effect it was declared invalid by the Supreme 
Court. 3 It was held in this case that the whole law was objec- 
tionable because it was local and special legislation since it 
applied different rules to Cook County from those adopted for 
the remainder of the state. Certain sections of the law were 
also unconstitutional on other grounds. The court in this case 

1 See Merriam, C. E., Primary Elections, 1908, 298-302 ; and Illinois 
Laws, 1885, 187; 1889, 140; 1898, 11; 1899, 211; 1901, 172, 192; 1903, 176. 

2 Illinois Laws, 1905, 211. 

s People v. Board of Election Commissioners, 211 111., 9. 



laid down the general rule that primaries were elections as that 
term is used in the constitution and consequently all the con- 
stitutional provisions applying to general elections were also 
applicable to primaries. "The right to choose candidates for 
public offices, whose names will be placed on the official ballot, 
is as valuable as the right to vote for them after they are chosen 
and it is of precisely the same nature." The court later ad- 
hered to this rule throughout the litigation over the primary 
law, though the application of the rule does not always seem 

Immediately after the judicial decision declaring invalid the 
act of 1905, the General Assembly was convened in special ses- 
sion for the purpose of passing another law. The second gen- 
eral Primary Election Law was approved May 23, 1906. 4 Under 
this act a state-wide primary election was held in August and 
the candidates nominated in this primary were voted upon in 
the November election of 1906. 

This primary law met the same fate as its predecessor and 
was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in October, 
1907. 5 This declaration of unconstitutionality, however, as in- 
dicated above, did not come until after the act had actually 
been applied to nominations for the regular election of Novem- 
ber, 1906. 

One of the grounds for holding invalid the primary act of 
1906 directly relates to the subject of cumulative voting. The 
law provided that delegates to a senatorial convention should be 
instructed to vote on the first ballot for the candidate for re- 
presentative who received the highest popular vote at the pri- 
mary. One candidate was thus in effect entitled to nomination 
because of the popular vote if his plurality was properly dis- 
tributed so that he received the instructed vote of a majority 
of the delegates to the senatorial convention. If he failed to 
receive a majority then the instructions were discharged and the 
delegates free to make the selection. The popular vote thus 
applied but to one of the three candidates for representative, 
that is, to the candidate for representative receiving the highest 
popular vote at the primary. 

* Illinois Laws, 1906, Special Session, 436. 
5 Eouse v. Thompson, 228 111., 522. 


The court applied its previous rule regarding the consti- 
tutional status of primaries and held that since the constitution 
provided that a voter had the right to vote for one, two or three 
candidates for representative in the General Assembly at the 
general election and the primary law provided that the voter 
could vote for but one candidate that portion of the statute was 
accordingly unconstitutional. In the opinion it was stated that : 
"Any primary election law to be valid, which provides for the 
nomination of candidates for representatives in the General 
Assembly must give the voter the right to participate in the 
selection of all the candidates of his party for representatives 
in the General Assembly which are to be nominated by his 
party." Also in this opinion the court pointed out rather de- 
finitely at least one possible method by which a primary law 
could be applied to the selection of candidates for the office of 
representative so as to conform to constitutional provisions. The 
method proposed by the court however did not seem to appeal to 
the legislature. 

A third primary law was enacted in January, 1908, 6 and was 
declared unconstitutional in June, 1909. 7 As happened under 
the primary act of 1906, between the time of the passing of the 
law of 1908 and the decision of the Supreme Court holding it 
unconstitutional, a primary election was held under the statute, 
and nominees thus chosen were voted upon at the general elec- 
tion held in November, 1908. 

The decision holding the primary law of 1908 invalid was 
based on several grounds, one of which relates to the subject of 
cumulative voting. The court held quite closely to its rule, 
promulgated in the first primary case and re-affirmed in the 
second decision, that primaries are elections as that term is used 
in the constitution and the decision is primarily an application 
of this rule as the court interpreted it. It was held that all 
provisions of the constitution, including those regarding cum- 
ulative voting for members of the House of Representatives, 
must apply to the primary elections as they do to general elec- 
tions. Since the statute failed to meet all these requirements 
it was declared to be unconstitutional. Incidentally it might 

e Illinois Laws, Adjourned Session, 1908, 48. 
7 People v. Strassheim, 240 111., 279. 


be noted that this statute repeated in substance some of the pro- 
visions of the previous law which had been declared void in the 
preceding case. 

The General Assembly in enacting these primary laws had ap- 
parently proceeded upon the assumption that a primary election 
is not an election as that term is used in the constitution. It 
was also contended that the cumulative vote was intended to be 
applied to contests between parties rather than to intra-party 
contests and that the cumulative vote was introduced into the 
constitution of 1870 primarily for the purpose of equalizing 
representation between the parties. In regard to the difference 
of opinion concerning the definition of the word "election" as 
used in the constitution, it may be noted that the judicial de- 
cisions in some states agree with the apparent assumptions of 
the legislature while in others they agree with the ruling of the 
supreme court. 

The fourth primary law of Illinois was enacted in March, 
1910, and was sustained by the Supreme Court in December of 
the same year. 8 

The primary legislation of 1910 was embodied in two laws, 
one relating to the selection of officers in general, and the other 
confined to the nomination of members of the Senate and the 
House of Representatives and the election of senatorial commit- 
teemen. The law relating to legislative nominations provides 
that the senatorial committee in each district shall determine 
the number of candidates which its party shall nominate. The 
act also expressly provides for cumulative voting in the nomi- 
nation of party candidates for the House of Representatives, 
specifying that "in all primaries for the nomination of candi- 
dates for representatives in the General Assembly, each quali- 
fied primary elector may cast three votes for one candidate, or 
may distribute the same or any parts thereof among two candi- 
dates or three candidates as he shall see fit." 

The primary law of 1910 provides that any citizen legally 
qualified to fill the office of representative may become a candi- 
date in the party primary and have his name printed upon the 
ballot, by filing a petition signed by one-half of one per cent 

s People v. Deneen, 247 111., 289. 


of the qualified primary electors of the party in his district. 9 
Because of the ease with which one may become a candidate in 
the party primary, there has been no dearth of such candidates. 
In 1910 there were 722 candidates ; 10 in 1912, 604 ; in 1914, 693 ; 
in 1916, 592 ; and in 1918, 456. These figures are for the can- 
didates of all parties, and in connection with them it should be 
borne in mind that the number of places to be filled at each 
regular election is 153. 

The great number of candidates in 1910 was probably due 
not only to the tendency to experiment with a new plan, but 
also to the high degree of public interest because of the scan- 
dal incident to the election of United States Senator at the 
session of 1909. The large number of candidates in 1914 was 
due to the fact that the Progressive party first appeared in the 
primary of that year, and had in the 1912 general election ob- 
tained a fairly large number of seats in the General Assembly, 
although in that election the Progressive party nominees were 
not selected by popular vote at the primary. No less than 126 
Progressive candidates appeared in 1914. 

Under the primary election law of 1910 the fight for office 
is now divided into two contests, and the number of candidates 
in the first or primary contest is an index of the freedom of 
choice presented to the voters. A table is therefore given cov- 
ering a period of five elections under the law of 1910, showing 
by districts the number of candidates and nominees of the im- 
portant parties at these elections. 

In twenty-two instances out of 561 the voter had no choice, 
there being but one candidate presented for nomination. Nine 
of these twenty-two cases were those of candidates of the Pro- 
gressive party in 1914, when that party was concentrating upon 
comparatively few candidates. In 1910, 1912, and 1914 the 
greatest number of candidates appeared in the Democratic pri- 
maries, while in 1916 and 1918 the greatest number appeared in 
the Republican primaries. 

The statute also contemplates independent candidates appearing on the 
regular election ticket by petition. 

10 Unofficial figures. The statistics given in Table V include four parties 
only for 1910. In addition to the candidates of these four parties there 
were a considerable number of independent candidates. 







i i 





rH rH <M 







The average number of primary candidates of the two great 
parties over the period of five elections was four to the district. 
All the cases in which there were ten or more candidates to the 
district were within Cook County. In the fourth and nine- 
teenth districts in 1914 there were 20 and 22 primary candidates 
respectively for the Democratic nominations, while the largest 
number entered in a Republican primary was 12 in the 21st 
and 31st districts in 1916. 

The large number of contestants in party primaries in cer- 
tain cases may be partly due to factional warfare within the 
party and to lack of strong party candidates. The party organ- 
ization can still put up its own candidates and still does so, but 
the primary law has undoubtedly thrown open the doors to as 
many non-organization candidates as may be desired. Although 
candidates without an organization support may present them- 
selves with great ease for the party nominations in the primary, 
it should, however, be borne in mind that party organization 
is effective here as well as in the general election, and that ordin- 
arily the primary candidate with organization aid obtains the 

As has already been mentioned, the primary act of 1910 pro- 
vides for a senatorial committee of each party in every district. 
This committee is composed of three members for each district 
consisting of two counties or less ; and of one member from each 
county in districts of three or more counties. In two-county 
districts the respective counties select one or two members ac- 
cording to the vote polled at the previous general election, and in 
one-county districts or districts wholly within a county, the mem- 
bers are elected at large. 

The principal function of the senatorial committee of each 
party is to determine how many candidates of that party shall 
be nominated within the district. When the primary legisla- 
tion was under consideration an attempt was made to allow 
the voters to decide for themselves whether each party should 
nominate one, two or three candidates for representative. It 
was decided, however, that this power should be given to the 
senatorial committee, and this decision was made largely be- 
cause of the fact that it would have been extremely difficult to 
devise a system under which the voter could at the same time 


express his view as to the number to be nominated by his party, 
and also indicate his preference among candidates the number of 
which had not then been determined. 

The number of candidates to be nominated by a party must 
be decided by the senatorial committee at least thirty-three days 
prior to the primary election. The committee, of course, deter- 
mines merely how many candidates are to be nominated. It 
can decide how many nominees the district is to have, but it can- 
not legally dictate what candidates are to be chosen by the 
voters. The members are elected by popular vote at the primary, 
and the voters have an opportunity to select non-organization 
committeemen though they may not take advantage of the oppor- 
tunity. The senatorial committee has undoubtedly been an im- 
portant part of the party machinery and in practice has, to a 
large extent, apparently been able to determine who the nomi- 
nee or nominees shall be. 

A study of Table IV will show that in the general elec- 
tions since the primary law came into force there have been 
but ten instances in which one party has nominated more 
than two candidates, although the number of party nominees 
has been slightly greater than before the adoption of the 
primary law. The total number of nominees put forth from 
year to year by either of the two leading parties shows no great 
variation. The senatorial committee's ability to forecast party 
strength has on the whole proven good. In the five elections 
held since the primary law has been operative, in but twelve 
instances have party candidates failed in the general election 
because the senatorial committee permitted too many candidates 
to enter the final contest. Eight of these cases occurred in 1912, 
and were due to the fact that the Progressives, a new party, 
entered the field and it was impossible to forecast accurately 
its strength. It should also be stated that minor parties al- 
most invariably limit their candidates at the primaries to one 
for each district, restricting their voters both in the primary 
and in the general election to but one candidate. This, how- 
ever, was not true of the Progressive party in 1914. 

Table V indicates the party vote cast at the last five primary 
elections. The meagerness of this vote confirms the general 
opinion with regard to primary elections, namely, that they do 


not arouse the interest of the average voter. It is interesting 
to note that in 1916, 95 votes were sufficient to nominate thir- 
teen candidates of the Progressive party. 

The primary system has given a greater opportunity to those 
who desire to become candidates for party nominations, and has 
theoretically given to each voter a greater share in the 
determination as to who the party candidates shall be. How- 
ever as already suggested, the party organization still deter- 
mines as a usual thing who the nominees shall be. In practice 
a well disciplined party organization is more effective than a 
loosely organized independent or reform movement. It should 
be noted however that the primary system does force a presenta- 
tion of the organization candidates more openly than was the 
case before the introduction of the primary. 

With two elections, the one a choice between candidates at 
the primary and the other between nominees at the general elec- 
tion, the real determination as to the membership of the General 
Assembly has shifted largely to the first or primary election. 
This has not materially altered the situation, for before the pri- 
mary law was enacted the real determination as to who should 
be members of the General Assembly was not altogether that 
at the general election, but was, to a very considerable extent, 
a determination within the party organization before the general 
election was held. Under the system which existed before the in- 
troduction of the primary, the voter at the general election had 
little choice as to whom he should cast his ballot for, and the 
existing primary law has not greatly changed this, although 
since the enactment of that law the voters have had a some- 
what greater choice through the fact that there have been more 
four-candidate districts than previously. 

If an organization candidate is to be defeated, however, the 
contest must be made in the primary, and it is probable that the 
non-organization voters have a more % distinct opportunity to de- 
feat an undesirable organization candidate under the primarv 
system than before. But it can scarcely be said that the present 
primary system has weakened party organization. 

The primary system does, however, make it possible to or- 
gazine and carry on an open fight against an undesirable 
candidate for the nomination. The existence of this oppor- 




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tunity has led such associations as the Legislative Voters' 
League to transfer their activities, to a very large extent, to 
the primaries as distinguished from the general election. The 
Legislative Voters' League, since the adoption of the primary 
system, has issued recommendations regarding candidates be- 
fore the primaries, recognizing the fact that the voters' choice 
after such primaries is relatively limited. However, as has al- 
ready been suggested, the voter has a limited degree of choice 
in the fairly large number of districts where each of the leading 
parties nominates two candidates to be voted upon at the gen- 
eral election. 


An investigation of the practical workings of cumulative 
voting is difficult, since with the exception of the bare facts 
to be derived from official statistics, there is little information 
on the subject. The history of the scheme is contemporaneous 
history and it is not easy to determine what has been accomp- 
lished by a movement still in progress. Many of the facts 
must be sought from individuals still in active life and in order 
to supplement statistical information, a list of questions was 
sent in 1908 when the first edition of this study was in prepara- 
tion to members of the legislature, 1 state officials, editors 
of some of the more important newspapers of the state, indiv- 
viduals active in civic reforms and a few other prominent citi- 
zens. The tabulation of the answers to those questions still 
of interest will appear in this and following chapters. 

In a preceding chapter appears the following quotation 
from the report of the Committee on Electoral Reform to the 
constitutional convention : 

"It (minority representation) will also tend powerfully to re- 
lieve the voter from the despotism of party caucuses and at the 
same time constrain leaders to exercise more care in selecting 
candidates for law-making. There is nothing which will more 
effectually put an end to the practice of packing conventions 
than arming the voter with the three-shooter or triple ballot 
power, whereby he may fire 'plumpers' for the candidate of 
his choice and against those of his aversion." In other words, 
the cumulative vote would deal a death blow to party bossism. 
In a report issued by the Legislative Voters ' League of Chicago 
appear these statements: "By it (minority representation) the 
people of Illinois have lost control of their Legislature," and 
"Minority representation has been one of the most vicious acts 

i Legislature of 1908. 



ever placed on the statute books;" "The candidates nominated 
and elected under the present system are in most instances 
merely errand boys and messengers for the party boss. ' ' 2 

It would be difficult for two assertions to be more widely con- 
tradictory. One is the statement made by a civic reformer proph- 
eseying the results of one of his favorite projects, the other 
was made after the scheme had been tried for thirty-five years. 
While the first, being a prophecy, can prove nothing, neither 
do the latter empiric dogmatic statements convince. 

One of the questions contained in the letter of inquiry sent 
out in 1908 was, "Does the system (cumulative voting) in- 
crease or diminish the power of the party machine?" Eighty- 
four definite answers were received to this question. Nine as- 
serted that the power was diminished, thirty-five maintained 
that the system had no effect on party organization, while forty 
asserted, and most of these were very certain as to the correct- 
ness of the answer, that the influence of the party machine was 
greatly increased. It is interesting, if not important, to note 
that of the nine who thought the party power was diminished, 
seven were then members of the legislature, and in general there 
is considerable variation between the answers of politicians and 
others who are but observers or critics of political affairs. 

One strong evidence of strict party control was the limited 
number of real candidates nominated under the convention sys- 
tem especially in the Chicago districts. It is true that there 
were frequently seven or eight candidates for the three places 
at each election, but usually there were but three nominees of 
the two dominant parties combined, and nomination thus be- 
came practically equivalent to an election. Other candidates 
represented various minor parties and were fully aware that 
ordinarily they had no chance of election. The usual rule was 
for the majority party to nominate two, the principal minority 
one, and this custom was practically universal so far as the 
former party was concerned. Prior to 1896 three candidates 

2 But compare the following from the reports of this same organization : 
' ' The things which have distinguished this Legislature are the high char- 
acter of a majority of its members. . ." "We are prepared to state 
that it is an absolute fact that a large majority of the members of the 44th 
General Assembly are honest and patriotic citizens" and various kindred 


were occasionally nominated by one party, but this happened 
only in districts where the majority party was unusually strong 
and had some hopes of electing three members ; or, what was more 
usual, the three candidates were the result of county factional 
controversies where two or more counties were combined in one 
district. In such cases it sometimes happened that the larger 
county demanded and secured both nominees and the smaller 
county, for the sake of revenge, would adopt the suicidal policy 
of putting a candidate of its own in the field. So far as has 
been ascertained, no majority party has ever nominated three 
candidates in order to give its constituents a greater choice at 
the polls. 

Before 1910 the number of candidates to be nominated was 
determined by the party leaders. No more candidates were 
nominated than it was thought possible to elect, and nomina- 
tions were made in party caucuses and conventions. Since 
1910 the law has expressly vested in the senatorial committee 
of each political party the power "to determine the number of 
candidates to be nominated by their party at the primary for 
representative in the General Assembly ; ' ' and the nomination is 
made at a primary election, in which each voter may cumulate 
his votes the same as at a general election. 

In Cook County, which has nineteen districts and conse- 
quently fifty-seven Representatives to elect, there were before 
1910 from 59 to 61 candidates presented by the combined Re- 
publican and Democratic parties. Since 1910 there have been 
from 62 to 67 presented. It was the rule to have but three can- 
didates presented by the two main political parties before the 
primary law of 1910, but since that year 42 percent of the Cook 
County districts have had four or more nominees. In at least 
one district both in 1904 and 1906 the majority party was 
strong enough to elect all three representatives but presented 
only two candidates. 3 In the districts outside of Cook County 
the appearance of four candidates of the two great parties has 
been more common since 1910 than in Cook County. 

In ten of the thirty-two districts outside of Cook County in 
1906, the two dominant parties nominated four candidates for 
the three positions. In 1904 in the same districts four candi- 

s Seventh District. 


dates were nominated in but eight of them; in 1902 four can- 
didates were nominated in but seven districts. In 1900, under 
the apportionment of 1893 in which there were 36 districts out- 
side of Cook County, 20 districts had four or more candidates 
of the two main parties in the field; in 1898, 26 districts and 
in 1896, 20 districts; in 1894, 29 districts. Under the primary 
law of 1910 there has been an increased number of four-nomi- 
nee districts outside of Cook County ; in 1910 there were 17 out 
of the 32 districts ; in 1912, 15 ; in 1914, 15 ; in 1916, 13 ; and in 
1918, 17 districts. 

It appears from the above figures that the voters of the mi- 
nority party in certain districts have had a limited choice of 
candidates at the election. It will also be seen that there is 
no uniform rule governing the action of the minority in regard 
to nominating two candidates, but there was a decrease in the 
number of four candidate districts in the elections preceding 
1910 and an increase of such districts since that year. 4 

Whether this is merely accidental or whether it is a permanent 
tendency cannot be definitely determined. Whenever there are 
two candidates on the same ticket and but one can be elected 
there is obviously an excellent prospect for an intra-party 

A study of election statistics reveals little or nothing regard- 
ing party discipline. In some districts where there are four can- 
didates and naturally each nominee of the minority party will 
induce as much " plumping" for himself as possible, the equal- 
ity of the vote would seem to indicate an obedience to the party 
exhortation not to "plump," but to vote one and one-half votes 
for each candidate. In other cases "plumping" does appear, 
but it is impossible to tell whether this is due to a voters' re- 
bellion against party domination or whether it is an indication 
of the power of the party leaders using their influence to elect the 
organization candidate. 

Such a scheme as minority representation and cumulative vot- 
ing must automatically increase party control. Several thous- 
and voters coming to the polls each with three votes to distribute 
as he sees fit, without a certain amount of party supervision, 
can lead to nothing but confusion, injustice, and misrepresen- 

* See Table IV for 1910 and following elections. 


tation. Some popular candidate might receive a large share of 
the votes while two others, a majority of those to be elected in 
this case, might be selected by a comparatively few votes cast 
for each. There would inevitably be such a waste of votes and 
unfair representation that the people would demand, or at least 
acquiesce in, the dictation of party managers in order to pre- 
vent such useless and indiscriminate voting. 

The undesirable conditions described above are not a mere 
supposition of what might happen, but specific instances can 
be cited of the disaster attending cumulative voting elections 
without party organization among the mass of the people. The 
best illustrations are the somewhat notorious school board elec- 
tions in England in 1870 already mentioned, when in some of 
the districts as many as fifteen members were to be elected and 
each elector as in Illinois, had as many votes as there were 
places to be filled. In Manchester there were fifteen members to 
be elected. "Manchester is famous for two things first, the 
fervor of its Protestanism ; second, the number, organization and 
strength of its working classes. But at this election two Roman 
Catholics were brought in at the head of the poll, one of them 
receiving nearly 20,000 more votes than any Protestant candi- 
date and no working class candidate, of whom there were seven, 
being elected at all. ' ' 5 

In Marylebone, a district of London, the favorite candidate 
received 47,858 votes and the next in the list had only 13,494. 
In Finsbury, another district of London, the highest number 
received by one candidate was 27,858 and the next highest but 
10,766. In Birmingham the fifteen successful candidates were 
voted for by about 18,800 voters, while 10,100 lost their votes 
on unsuccessful candidates 6 a much greater percentage of non- 
representation than usually prevails in the single vote method. 
If specific instances are necessary to prove what appears an 
almost axiomatic truth the futility of attempting an election 
with the cumulative vote without party organization and lead- 
ers able to control that organization, the English school board 
elections furnish some very instructive examples. 

While there can be no doubt but that a scheme of cumulative 

s Butcher, Minority Eepresentation, 72. 
Dutcher, Minority Representation, 69-74. 


voting, because of inherent peculiarities, will create a demand 
for a strong party organization, this does not necessarily imply 
that the members of the various legislatures of the state have 
been "machine" men in the opprobious sense in which that term 
has come to be used. However, legislative conditions in Illi- 
nois have not been altogether satisfactory, to put it mildly, and 
the records of some of the legislatures have not been ideal. 
Granting, for the sake of argument, that all the many accusa- 
tions made against the legislature in the past few years are 
true, it would appear that the cumulative voting system has 
been more sinned against than sinning. Admitting all the 
charges, there is no evidence anywhere nor any analogy from 
which conclusions can be drawn which would warrant any be- 
lief other than that the ' ' machine ' ' would be just as corrupt and 
have just as complete control as it now has if the cumulative 
vote had never been used. An investigation of the legislatures 
of New York, Pennsylvania, in fact almost any state selected at 
random, will show that other states suffer from exactly the same 
political "boss" evils of which Illinois complains. The sins of 
the latter state's legislature seem to be those of omission rather 
than commission. There have been vexatious delays in securing 
legislation made necessary by the rapid advance of the state, 
but with a few recent exceptions there have not been many 
charges of positive corruption such as are not altogether in- 
frequent in other states. 

The same organization which calls the cumulative voting sys- 
tem the "most vicious piece of legislation ever placed on the 
statute books" also says: "These two measures illustrate how 
the organizations of the Senate and House work hand in hand. 
They divide the responsibility one kills one bill and the other 
another. " 7 In other words, the Senate is as bad as the House, 
yet the Senate has never been tainted with the cumulative vote. 
Also in this state there was no cumulative voting prior to 1872, 
and surely the records of some of these earlier legislatures are 
nothing of which to boast. So greatly did the early law-making 
bodies abuse their power that one of the principal reasons for 
calling a constitutional convention in 1848 and again in 1862 

7 Legislative Voters' League, Preliminary Report on the 45th General 
Assembly, 1908. 


was to limit legislative discretion. It is not necessary here to 
describe the "internal improvement" policy, the oppressive 
state debt, attempts at repudiation, the passage of questionable 
private bills and the long, dreary list of legislative shortcomings, 
but it is doubtful if the later legislatures can equal the unen- 
viable records of many of their early predecessors. 

The above is written with no intention of either defending or 
condemning the state legislatures, but rather to clear the cumu- 
lative voting system of certain charges of which it is not al- 
together guilty. It would be useless to deny that the cumula- 
tive vote requires strict party discipline, and that in this sys- 
tem the political "boss" found ready made a means of exercis- 
ing his control, but all evidence tends to show that if such means 
had not been furnished he would have found methods of 
his own to accomplish the same result. It is, of course, a very 
negative sort of a recommendation to say that a system is no 
worse than others but, so far as the evils of excessive party 
control is concerned, that is the most that can be said about the 
cumulative system as actually applied in this state. But it 
should be borne in mind that these evils are not all due to cumu- 
lative voting per se, but rather to abuses of the system, and here 
is really the heart of the whole question. As the scheme has 
worked out in practice nominations to the House of Representa- 
tives have become practically equivalent to election. 

As has already been indicated, the primary election law of 
1910 vested in the party senatorial committee of each district 
the authority to determine the number of candidates to be nomi- 
nated by the party in such district. The preceding discussion 
indicates that there has been under the primary law a greater 
number of cases than theretofore in which each of the larger 
parties has nominated two candidates. The determination as 
to how many candidates each party shall nominate is by the 
terms of the law a more open and public matter than before 
1910, and under the present plan party leaders have so acted 
as to give the voter a greater degree of choice in the general 

In the primary to nominate the number of candidates desig- 
nated by the senatorial committee, the cumulative system ap- 
plies, and this is constitutionally necessary under the decisions 


of the state Supreme Court. The tables on pages 48, 49 and 53 
indicate that there has been no dearth of primary candidates since 
1910. Anyone may easily become a candidate in the primary, but 
this fact does not seem up to the present time to have weakened 
the party organization. The application of the cumulative system 
to the primary may work to strengthen the organization, for 
if there are a number of candidates in the primary, a well dis- 
ciplined body of voters by cumulating on one or two candidates 
may usually decide the nomination ; and the party organization 
has thus controlled not only the number of candidates to be 
nominated, but has also frequently determined who should be 
nominated in the primary. 



When the advocates of electoral reform were busy formulat- 
ing schemes of minority representation they had no difficulties 
in devising theories that would afford such representation with- 
mathematical exactness. The real difficulty lay in making these 
methods so simple that the ordinary voter could exercise his 
privilege intelligently and the returning boards tabulate results 
readily and accurately. The committee on electoral reform 
in the constitutional convention also struggled with this prob- 
lem and abandoned their first device as too complicated. The 
plan finally recommended was the simplest the committee could 
devise, but even then it was feared there would be difficulty in 
voting and counting the votes. As a matter of fact, as often 
happens whenever any new system of voting is put into opera- 
tion, there was at first some difficulty at the polls, but this grew 
less as the voters became familiar with the plan. Later, when 
the Australian ballot was introduced, more obstacles were en- 
countered. To obtain additional information on this subject 
the following question was included in the list sent out by the 
writer in 1908: Are there any practical difficulties in voting, 
counting votes, etc?" Of the ninety-three answers received to 
this question, sixty asserted that there were no difficulties at 
all, or, if any, they were so slight as to be of no real importance. 
Thirty-three answered that the difficulties were serious enough 
to constitute a real objection. In the great majority of cases 
these thirty-three were opposed to the entire plan, and were in- 
clined to attack every phase of it whether there was really justi- 
fication for such attack or not. To count and record half votes 
may require a little more time to arrive at results than under 
the ordinary system of voting, but beyond this inconvenience the 
practical difficulties are so slight that they cannot be considered 
as any real objection. 



With the idea of determining public sentiment on the ques- 
tion and to ascertain if minority representation in its some- 
what crude and limited form was regarded sufficiently success- 
ful that the people of the state would approve of a wider ap- 
plication of the principle, a question was included in the pre- 
viously mentioned list sent out in 1908 asking what advantages, 
if any, would be gained by increasing the size of the districts 
and electing more than three men from each. Evidently the 
larger the districts and the more officials elected from each, the 
more opportunity small parties would have of being represent- 
. ed and the more nearly the scheme would approach proportional 
representation. Of eighty-eight who replied directly to this 
question, three favored the idea of larger districts and eighty- 
five disapproved, but it is evident that the answers are of but 
little value so far as an expression of opinion regarding propor- 
tional representation is concerned. Apparently those replying 
had not considered the wide extension of the principles of pro- 
portional representation which such a change would entail and 
opposed any such increase in the size of the districts on grounds 
of general expediency. 

Judging from the opinions of representative citizens whose 
standing in the community is such that their ideas may be taken 
as a criterion, public sentiment is either indifferent or opposed 
to minority representation. The scheme has a few warm 
friends, but many of those expressing opinions think it has pro- 
duced but little effect in any direction, while others are squarely 
opposed, opposition usually being based on the alleged subver- 
sion of the system by party organization. All are agreed that 
one of the principal objects of the introduction of the method, 
the allaying of sectional strife, has been accomplished, but this 
is now an issue of the past and cannot be advanced as a justi- 
fication- for the present existence of minority representation. 

As quoted in a preceding chapter the electoral committee 
took the view that: "It (cumulative voting) will increase the 
usefulness of the legislature by improving the membership. It 
will enable virtuous citizens to elect the ablest and purest men 
in their midst and secure to the legislative councils a large 
measure of popular confidence and respect. ' ' How far this con- 
tention has been justified it is difficult to say, but in reply to 


the previously mentioned questionnaire sent out in 1908, only 
six out of a total of eighty-four who expressed their ideas on 
the subject were of the opinion that the personnel of the legis- 
lature had been improved by the cumulative method of election. 
The public, however, usually thinks of cases in which the cumu- 
lative system has kept in office some undesirable member, and 
overlooks the fact that a number of the ablest and most useful 
members have been minority members in their own districts. 

Those mentioned above who expressed their opinions on this 
subject are not altogether fair in their comparisons between the 
cumulative vote and the ordinary method. They are fully 
aware of the defects of the method used and compare an actual 
system and its practical evils with an ideal conception of the 
one-vote method, forgetting that the latter leads to equally bad, 
if not the same, evils, when put into operation. Then again, 
it is the fashion to decry and ridicule all legislative bodies from 
municipal councils to the Congress of the United States. Crea- 
tive legislation is a difficult task and when mistakes are made 
many self-constituted critics appear and denounce both statutes 
and their authors and allowance must be made for this prevail- 
ing custom. 

There are two features, aside from the increased power of 
the party organization, which may aid in the election of infer- 
ior candidates. It was expected that the voter's privilege of 
" plumping" would tend to defeat undesirable men, but in fact 
this has at times worked out in exactly the opposite way. Prac- 
tice here illustrates how easily a reform may be utilized ad- 
vantageously by the very people against whom the measure was 
aimed and the "triple armed voter the terror of party des- 
potism" seems to have been reduced to a very harmless terror 
indeed. As already mentioned the party organization may ex- 
ert all its influence to elect its candidate, while a more indepen- 
dent nominee may unwittingly aid his own defeat by asking his 
party to divide the vote equally between himself and his ticket- 
mate. While such cases may happen their frequency has un- 
doubtedly been exaggerated. Election statistics show but com- 
paritively few instances where a candidate has been defeated by 
"plumping." Even assuming, what facts will not warrant, 
namely, that all nominees who fail of election are the very ones 


that should have been elected, few men have been kept out of 
the legislature on this account, who, for the good of the com- 
munity, should have been there. 

Another circumstance which may affect the personnel of the 
legislature is incidental rather than essential to minority repre- 
sentation. In this state, if three legislators are to be elected 
from a district, the number of these latter must be somewhat 
limited and this necessitates the union of two or more counties. 
This combination leads to jealousies between the counties, 
each fearing that it will not get its full share of the spoils. When 
fights of this sort occur the personality and qualifications of 
the candidates are lost sight of and the only question considered 
by the voter is whether or not the nominee is a "home" man. 
While these county feuds exist and are sometimes of long stand- 
ing, it is doubtful if they produce much effect on the personnel 
of the legislature. Some desirable candidates have probably 
been defeated because of county jealousies, but it is probably 
true that just as many undesirable nominees have failed of elec- 
tion for the same reason and the account is about balanced. 

Many of those expressing their opinion on the subject believe 
that the method of election has nothing to do with the character 
and ability of the legislators and this seems the reasonable and 
logical view. The voters and character of the voters will be the 
same regardless of the method of election and, generally speak- 
ing, elected officials are representative of those from whom they 
receive their credentials. 

While the cumulative vote requires strict party discipline, the 
abuse of that discipline does not necessarily follow, but it is 
evident that when the innovation was introduced into Illinois 
it was not properly safeguarded. While few attempts have been 
made to abolish the cumulative vote by constitutional amend- 
ment several schemes have been proposed to free it of its atten- 
dant evils. A reform which has been suggested and championed 
by at least one rather prominent civic organization is to compel 
each party to nominate a full ticket of three candidates. The 
object is, of course, to present a considerable number of men 
from which the voter may select those he considers best quali- 
fied but the attempt to inaugurate this change without specific 
statutory authority failed. This method would obviously be a 
plain violation of the spirit, if not of the letter, of the constitu- 


tion if such a law or custom were followed in good faith. For 
illustration, we will assume a district in which the Republican 
party has a majority. This party would nominate a full ticket 
and the Democratic and other minority parties would do like- 
wise. Since party dis-affection is the unusual rather than us- 
ual condition, the result would be ordinarily that each voter 
would cast one vote for each candidate of his party, and the three 
Republican nominees would be elected and minority representa- 
tion practically abolished. Such practice would give the inde- 
pendent voters a chance to exercise their discretion, but it is 
only when the occasional wave of civic virtue sweeps over the 
country that they become numerous enough to endanger party 
success. The usual results of each party having a ticket of three 
candidates would be that the majority party would elect all 
three representatives at the expense of the minority. 

If three men were nominated in good faith by each party, 
thus putting a larger number of candidates in the field, of which 
only three could be elected, the result would be a hard, bitter 
fight, not between parties, but between nominees on the same 
ticket. It would be easier for a Republican, for example, to 
secure one or one and one-half votes from his colleague than it 
would to cross party lines and secure the same from his Demo- 
cratic opponent. Parties would be demoralized, cliques and rings 
would grow up around certain individuals and campaigns would 
be waged not on political issues but personalities. Such a 
change would in no way affect the real evil in the case. 

In the above it is assumed that in nominating three candidates 
each party acts in good faith. Every conclusion, however, that 
can be drawn from past history or present conditions indicates 
that such practice would not be conscientiously carried out by 
any party nor is it probable that any legislation could accomp- 
lish the desired result. Taking the example previously given, 
if the Democrats only had enough votes to elect one man if they 
"plumped" on him, they undoubtedly would "plump." Three 
names might appear on the ticket, but it would be made known 
that two of them were there to meet the technical requirements 
and that there was but one real candidate. A rebellious voter 
might not vote for that one, but if he did not he would be prac- 
tically sure that he was wasting his vote. 


In the preceding discussion it has been shown that the cumu- 
lative method in practically all cases secures minority represen- 
tation in the legislative districts of the state. Considering only 
the two main parties, representation is obtained very nearly 
proportional to the vote cast by each. Parties other than the 
Republican and Democratic seldom have more votes in any dis- 
trict than the weaker of these two main ones and hence elect but 
few members. There is, however, a much smaller waste of votes 
and smaller percentage of non-representation than prevails 
under the ordinary majority system. 

The evils of gerrymandering are greatly reduced, as is in- 
dicated by the fact that the vote required to elect a representa- 
tive is about the same for either of the two principal parties, 
while for senators, elected by the plurality system from the same 
districts, it requires from two to four times as many Democratic 
as Republican votes to elect one member. 

The minority party does occasionally secure undue representa- 
tion, as in s'bme instances it has elected two out of three repre- 
sentatives. Such results, however, occur only in a few cases 
since only in about four per cent of the total elections has a 
minority elected an excessive member of legislators from indi- 
vidual districts. These mishaps may be due to bad management 
by the majority party failing to nominate the candidates which 
it might elect or one party nominating three candidates when it- 
had not sufficient votes to elect them ; or by one or more of the 
opposition parties concentrating on one candidate ; or they may 
be caused by the personal popularity of a candidate ; by county 
feuds, where two or more are joined in one district; or by the 
party organization fighting valiantly for a candidate whom it 
fears may be defeated. 

In every case where a party has had a plurality in the state 
it has had a plurality in the lower house of the legislature, and 



the will of the people, as indicated by party vote, has never been 
defeated because of occasional instances of the minority securing 
excessive representation in certain districts. 

Any system like the cumulative method has inherent qualities 
which demand strict party discipline. Political leaders of the 
state have not been slow to take advantage of this. The most 
noticeable and pernicious evil, before the enactment of the pri- 
mary law, was the rigorous limitation of nominees presented by 
the two principal parties at each election. While this condi- 
tion has not been greatly changed since the use of the primary 
system, the people do have a wider choice, as indicated by 
the large number of candidates at the primaries from which to 
select the limited number of nominees, and as also indicated by 
the increase of four nominee districts. Although party control 
is required by the cumulative vote, it is doubtful if, on the whole, 
political bossism has been worse in Illinois than in other states* 
In Illinois, however, with the system unguarded as it was until ^- / 
quite recently, it was very difficult for the electorate to free 
itself from this undesirable party domination even if so inclined. 
If a satisfactory primary law, allowing the electors a wide choice 
in their selection of nominees, is available, the Illinois voter 
would seem as free to rid himself of undue partisan control as 
the voter in other states where the cumulative system does not 

The practical difficulties of voting under the cumulative sys- 
tem as used in this state are so slight as to constitute no real 

The effect of the cumulative method on the personnel of the 
legislature is difficult to ascertain definitely, since the character 
of legislators who might have been elected to office under some 
other plan of selection is entirely indeterminate. The logical 
conclusion, however, drawn from comparison, is that the cumula- 
tive method has had little effect on the personnel of the Assemb- 
ly. The method of voting can, of course, have no influence on 
the electorate which determines who the representatives shall be. 
In comparison with other states the members of the Illinois legis- 
lature seem to be a fair average, thus again indicating the small 
effects which electoral methods have on the character of officials. 

The strongest recommendation for the cumulative system is 


the fact that at all times it secures representation for a minor- 
ity party, thus insuring a strong minority in the lower house 
of the General Assembly. The inherent justice of the first men- 
tioned fact will appeal strongly to civic reformers and is worthy 
of consideration when discussing the merits of minority rep- 
resentations, while the latter makes impossible the tyranny 
of an overwhelming majority which is too often inclined to over- 
ride the minority in a mere wanton display of power. An ever 
present minority also serves to check the tendency towards cor- 
ruption which almost invariably follows when one party has for a 
considerable time a large majority in the legislature. This ap- 
plies with special force to Illinois where with but few exceptions 
one party has had control of the state for many years. 

The serious objection to the cumulative method is the oppor- 
tunity it affords for "machine" control and party "bossism." 
While the primary system in itself is not a guarantee against 
undesirable party activity yet in practice it has in other states 
bettered political conditions and there is no apparent reason 
why a satisfactory primary law may not accomplish the same re- 
sult in Illinois if the voters will avail themselves freely of its 

It may also be said of the primary that it in no way affects 
the cumulative system of voting. It simply applies the system 
in two elections instead of one. Minority representation is also 
unaffected as evidenced by Table II. With a satisfactory pri- 
mary system in force the people may, if they will, apparently 
control their legislature as effectively as under the ordinary plur- 
ality system and in addition secure an approach to proportional 
representation so far as the two major parties are concerned.