2013-01-24 / News

House bill calls for ban of master lever

Calling it archaic and confusing, Reps. Michael Marcello and Brian Newberry are calling for the elimination of the master lever that is still in use on Rhode Island election ballots. The lever allows voters to make one mark on their ballot to cast a vote for every candidate on that ballot of a particular party.

“The master lever is counterproductive to the meaning of democracy,” said Marcello, chairman of the House Committee on Oversight. “At a time when more voters consider themselves independent than a member of either traditional party, the master lever appears to be little more than a way for power politics to thumb its nose at the voter and at independent candidates for office.”

While straight-ticket voting has historical roots, the national trend has been away from the master lever, leaving Rhode Island as one of fewer than 20 states that still use it.

The goal of the legislation to eliminate the master lever will encourage voters to become more actively involved in the election process by learning about who is running and making a more informed decision.

Gov. Lincoln Chafee also called for the elimination of the master lever in Rhode Island, saying “any mechanism that contributes to voter confusion, and worse, voter disenfranchisement, should not be on the ballot.”

Return to top