Senate approves bill to abolish 'master lever' - ABC6 - Providence, RI and New Bedford, MA News, Weather

Senate approves bill to abolish 'master lever'

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By The Associated Press 

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) _ The Senate has approved legislation to do away with the straight-ticket voting option on Rhode Island ballots.

The House already endorsed a bill to eliminate the so-called ``master lever'' but that version would have taken effect in time for November's elections. The Senate version takes effect in 2015.         

The vote was 34-3.

"I am obviously delighted.  I really thank the leadership for getting it out of committee and giving everyone a chance to vote on it.  I am very pleased with the vote," said Sen. David Bates.

Sen. Harold Metts was one of the three dissenting votes.  He says the Master Lever works for his district.

"The people in my district they know who has their interest and if they want to use the Master Lever than it's their right as Americans to do so," said Sen. Metts.

The House is expected to vote on a matching version before it adjourns for the year.         

The master lever allows voters to cast a straight-ticket vote with a single ballot mark. Critics call it confusing and undemocratic and say it encourages ill-prepared voters. Supporters say it's a popular tool.

About a quarter of voters in the 2012 elections used the master lever; three-fourths supported Democrats

Prior efforts to abolish it have stalled.

(C) WLNE-TV/The Associated Press 2014

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