Cumulative ballots create controversy at some North Texas polls

CARROLLTON, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – If you’ve never heard of cumulative ballots, they are becoming more popular across the country. 

Here locally, they only being used in Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD and because of it, some candidates names are a lot easier to find than others. 

Randy Schackmann campaigned Friday along with other candidates outside a Carrollton library. Up until recently, he was confident he would be re-elected for a 4th term. “I’ve always received the most votes in prior elections.”

That was until he got complaints from his supporters during early voting that they couldn’t find his name on the ballot. “When you call up the ballot, I’m just not there.”

The five candidates are each listed three times on what’s called a cumulative ballot. 

Voters can choose three different candidates, select the same one three times or two times. 

The three candidates with the most votes get elected. 

It’s the result of a lawsuit over at-large districts, but it’s led to a ballot with so many multiple names that incumbents Schackmann and Tara Hrbacek have all or part of their names hidden behind an icon on the screen that says “more.”

Tara Hrbacek is one of the Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD incumbents who’s name is hidden behind an icon on screen.

“My fear is that people will be confused. There is a possibility that they may get frustrated, tired, or whatever and just not vote,” said Schackman.

Ellie Brown was among the voters who found it difficult to vote for him. “I feel like I’m starting behind the eight ball and feeling a little bit cheated,” she said. “I really stood there for two minutes kind of confused about why I saw everybody else’s name and not his, finally saw the next button.”

We left messages with the Dallas County Elections Department but got no response. 

Schackmann says the sample ballot he originally received from the county listed all five candidates on the same page. 

“My concern is that I always want to be able to have a fair election. I know our school district wants this election to be fair. They’re not happy with the way it’s happened and I want to make sure that going forward, as long as we are forced by law to use this cumulative voting system, that Dallas County will be able to handle it and it will be equal and fair for everybody.”

A county commissioner I spoke with says he contacted the elections administrator and was told it was too late to do anything about this. 

The election is next Saturday and early voting ends on Tuesday. 

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