Eliminate the Master Lever
Fiscal Responsibility, Government Accountability, Return to Constitutional Values and Principles
Bill abolishing R.I.’s ‘master lever’ signed into law by Chafee
Published: July 02, 2014 01:00 AM
Source: The Providence Journal
BY RANDAL EDGAR
Journal State House Bureau
PROVIDENCE, R.I. — The campaign to abolish the “master lever” crossed its final hurdle Tuesday with Governor Chafee signing matching House and Senate bills that will soon make a one-line straight-party voting option a thing of the past.
Passed during final days of the 2014 legislative session, the bills ended a decades-long campaign to do away with the straight-ticket or “master-lever” option — so named because of the levers that were once present on voting machines
The legislation will not change this year’s election ballots.
Lawmakers, concerned that removing the straight-party option might confuse some voters, ultimately decided that the secretary of state’s office should conduct a “training and community outreach” campaign “throughout the state,” before an election is held without the master-lever option.
But with the bill scheduled to take effect Jan. 1, it assures that after this year’s election, the straight-party ballot option will be a thing of the past.
News of Chafee’s signing brought quick, though not necessarily glowing, responses on Twitter.
“You would have thought that after a 51-year advocacy effort that a signing ceremony would have been in order — but I will say good riddance to bad election law!” tweeted Republican gubernatorial candidate Ken Block, who led the effort in recent years to abolish master-lever option.
“A signing ceremony for calamari obviously took precedence,” House Minority Leader Brian Newberry tweeted back. Newberry, a North Smithfield Republican, was referring to last Friday’s highly publicized signing of a bill that makes calamari the official state appetizer.
About a dozen states, including Rhode Island, still offer the straight-ticket option, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Chafee’s office, in a news release Tuesday, said the 2014 legislative session — which also saw lawmakers vote to reduce the corporate tax, avert tolls on the Sakonnet River Bridge and approve the next payment due to the investors in the failed 38 Studios video game venture — was “the most productive during his tenure.”
Last Updated: 12:51 PM 1/31/2015