PROVIDENCE – The House of Representatives this month unanimously approved legislation to eliminate the “master lever,” or straight-party voting option, on all future, nonprimary Rhode Island election ballots.
The bill, sponsored by Rep. K. Joseph Shekarchi, D-Warwick, will now go to the Senate for consideration.
The legislation calls for the elimination of the option of straight-party voting by means of a single mark (a so-called “master lever”) in nonprimary elections. Because it is scheduled to take effect upon passage, the legislation, if enacted into law, would be implemented in time for this year’s November election.
“This is a pragmatic solution to what has been a long and persistent controversy,” Shekarchi said in a statement. “At a time when more voters consider themselves independent than a member of either traditional party, the master lever has, I believe, outlived its usefulness.”
Shekarchi also said implementing the change this year should still give the secretary of state’s office adequate time to educate voters about the termination of the straight-party vote option. •