Effort to Ban Master Lever Voting in RI - ABC6 - Providence, RI and New Bedford, MA News, Weather

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Effort to Ban Master Lever Voting in RI

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by ABC6 Chief Political Reporter Mark Curtis 

mcurtis@abc6.com 

The way people vote in Rhode Island might be about to change in a major way.

Another hearing before the General Assembly would ban the so–called "Master–Lever" where if you check the box for one party, it will automatically vote in every race, for that party's candidate.

Critics say, it's not–Democratic.

"It cuts to the core of the integrity of our ballot. When individuals go in and vote for a party, as opposed to voting for an individual, we have really corrupted the voting process," said Ken Block, (R) Candidate for Governor and chief sponsor of the effort to ban the Master Lever.

Last election State Senator Harold Metts received 62 percent of his votes from the master lever, and not people voting directly for him:

ABC6 Chief Political Reporter Mark Curtis said, "Two weeks ago, The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on banning the Master Lever, and not one member of the public – not one– not up to speak in favor of keeping it."

For years the Democratic Party - and labor unions that support it - have quietly fought to keep the master lever going, since it favors them.

Some voters like it too.

"If it's working, if it's not broke, then don't fix it."

Q: And you've been a life long Democrat?

"All my live; 51 years," said Master Lever supporter Derek Smith.

"Make it easier for people."

Q: Just to check one party and walk out of the voting booth?

"Yep, yeah," said Master Lever supporter Carolyn Ray.

But in 2012, eight thousand voters checked the box for the Moderate Party - even though it had no candidates on the ballot.

"There's mass confusion over the Master Lever... It's time to get rid of the Master Lever."

Rhode Island is only one of fourteen states left with Master Lever voting.

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