John Marion is the executive director of Common Cause Rhode Island.

9 responses to “What’s really wrong with the master lever”

  1. Johnnie

    John, I read your position on the master lever. All I have to say is that I think you have too much time on your hands.
    i have some concerns about voting that you might address. We have the highest unemployment rate in the country and extended benefits are running out. Who should I vote for to put Rhode Islanders back to work? One-sixth of the population is on food stamps. Who should I vote for? Twenty-one percent of our children live in poverty. Who should I vote for? Many people are paying over 50% of their income for rent. Who should I vote for? As it stands now many seniors in high school will not pass the NECAP and won’t graduate. Who should I vote for? We are on the hook for $111 million-dollars for 38 Studios. Who should I vote for?
    I must be one of the people the master lever discriminates against, because I don’t know who to vote for to address my concerns. And this is my short list. 
    I have to say John that I don’t think I have anything in common with your cause.

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    1. Sully

      I would say this response sums up nicley the typically lame “defense” of the Master Lever.

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    2. DogDiesel

      I didn’t think it was possible but you’ve possibly managed to exceed Gordon Fox’s nonsensical blather. Are you saying we should keep the master lever because of your inability to educate yourself about candidates or you just don’t care who gets elected?

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  2. Samuel Bell

    I think it would be helpful to show a concrete example of how the master lever actually leads to voters voting for a different candidate than they intend.
    I can see how someone might conceivably vote in a race where they do not intend to vote, but I am quite confused as to how the master lever would make someone vote for a candidate when they intend to vote for the other candidate.  John’s argument would be much stronger with a concrete example.
    I do believe that the master lever creates a specific problem for communities where there are a non-partisan races or town council races where you choose multiple candidates.  I can also see how it might contribute to an undervote on ballot questions.  I believe that if the master lever is maintained, we ought to redesign the ballot to make it clear that the master lever does not apply to those parts of the ballot.  Perhaps we could draw a box around the races that the master lever applies to and add a disclaimer explaining that it only applies to races in that box.
    Although ending the master lever is politically unrealistic, we should all be able to agree that a ballot redesign to clarify its use would be a good idea.

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    1. DogDiesel

      Maybe not your specific problem Samuel but didn’t Ken Block highlight the problem with an example of  straight party votes for moderates where there weren’t any local moderate candidates? That’s the perfect example where the straight party voting option promotes uneducated voting. We may not be able to educate voters but we can at least make them read the names of those for whom they would cast a vote.

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  3. Sully

    “Perhaps we could draw a box around the races that the master lever applies to and add a disclaimer explaining that it only applies to races in that box.”
    I don’t think adding highlighted boxes and disclaimers to ballots would make a them eaiser to follow. A ballot shouldn’t have to real like the instrictions for programming my old VCR. Seems like a lot of effort to protect a mechanism designed to unlevel the playing field.  

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  4. Publius

    The Master Lever issue is a big waste of time. Mr. Block is simply creating controversy to maintain his 15 minutes of fame. If he’s really serious about running for Governor he’d spend more time on activities needed to improve the economic climate in RI. That means JOBS, JOBS, JOBS.

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    1. DogDiesel

      The typical response from someone who can’t argue the facts. Call it a waste of time and question the motives. We’ve been selecting the party over the politician for decades and where has it gotten us besides high taxes and a poor economy.

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