Chafee signs ‘master lever’ bill into law

By The Associated Press 

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) _ Straight-ticket voting will no longer be an option on Rhode Island ballots starting next year under legislation signed by Gov. Lincoln Chafee.      

The governor’s office said Tuesday the Democrat has signed legislation that abolishes the so-called master lever. Bills were sponsored by Sen. David Bates and Rep. Joseph Shekarchi.

An earlier version of the bill would have made the change in time for November’s elections, but it was amended to take effect beginning in 2015. The legislation calls for the secretary of state’s office to conduct a voter outreach effort.        

Efforts to abolish the master lever have stalled in recent years.

Critics have long said it is undemocratic and confusing to voters. About a quarter of Rhode Island voters in the 2012 elections used it, the vast majority for Democrats. 

(C) The Associated Press 2014