Rhode Island is one of only 15 states left that still offers the option of party-line voting, and the only state in the Northeast. It appears as if 2013 will see a renewed and strengthened effort to remove this vestigial electoral organ. Ken Block is leading a petition drive to push the issue. [You can sign the petition here: www.masterlever.org/]
Block is not alone in this fight. Already 24 of the state’s 39 municipalities have passed resolutions calling on the State House to get rid of the master lever. Additionally, good government groups from across the political spectrum are in favor of requiring each voter to vote for every office on the ballot separately.
I can’t say with confidence that taking away the lazy option of voting for a straight party ticket with the single stroke of marker will lead to voters becoming more educated about each race, but I do know that it can’t hurt. Because our ballots are simple to understand and our vote tallying machines are quick and clean, I also can’t see any benefit to keeping the option.
Thus by abolishing the master lever anachronism, we risk nothing and stand to gain at least a somewhat better informed electoral process. What are we waiting for?