How do you inform people of something that won’t be on the next General Election ballot? That was the question Secretary of State Nellie M. Gorbea hoped would be answered at a meeting with elected officials and representatives from local boards of canvassers on Friday. She got some answers. While the 2016 elections seem a long way away, Gorbea said she had the meeting to comply with legislation eliminating the party master lever from the ballot. The bill, introduced by Warwick state Rep. K. Joseph Shekarchi and approved by the General Assembly last year, calls for elimination of straight party voting as of Jan. 1, 2015. The measure also calls for voter information sessions beginning within a month. State Sen. David Bates introduced the Senate version of the bill. Gorbea agreed it seemed a bit early to get started on educating the public, but then she’s complying with the law.
The bigger question is whether informational sessions really matter, since the ballot won’t offer single-party voting and the electorate will have to choose between candidates.
Gorbea thought it would help, as voters accustomed to using the master lever would know what to expect. “It will be a smoother process and won’t slow things down,” she said.
Shekarchi called the bill his “signature piece of legislation.” Personally, Shekarchi said he doesn’t see elimination of the master lever as dramatically altering the outcome of elections. There was overwhelming support to eliminate the master ballot. He said it is important, especially for the elderly, to understand what they can expect when they vote next time.