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.