Rep. Craven applauds passage of bill to eliminate "master lever"
STATE HOUSE – Rep. Robert E. Craven (D-Dist. 32, North Kingstown) applauded this week’s House vote approving legislation to eliminate the “master lever” from future state ballots.
Representative Craven was one of the prime co-sponsors of the bill, 2014-H 8072aa, passed unanimously by the House and sent to the Senate for consideration. The legislation calls for the elimination of straight party voting by means of a single mark (a master lever). If enacted into law, it will take immediate effect and be implemented in time for the November election.
“As a proponent of change in government, I was pleased to be able to co-sponsor the legislation and to join with all my House colleagues in voting for its passage this week,” said Representative Craven, who is a member of the House Committee on Judiciary that earlier in the week voted unanimously to send the bill to the House floor.
“While taking this step is seen by some as a largely symbolic gesture,” said Representative Craven, “I am convinced that many voters have been disenfranchised in the past and doing this will also ensure that no voters in Rhode Island will ever again be disenfranchised.”
In addition to eliminating the master lever, the legislation also calls on the Secretary of State’s office to undertake a training and community outreach program to inform voters of the impending change in the ballot.
“Since we have had this master lever provision on the ballot for more than 50 years, I think it is very important that voters be educated about the change, especially those elderly voters in our state who are used to using a master lever,” he said. “I am confident that, by the time voters go to the polls in November, Rhode Islanders will be fully aware of this significant change in the voting process.”
Representative Craven said that eliminating the master lever will also eliminate any confusion that arises for voters when non-partisan, down ballot races are included on the same ballot as partisan races.
Rhode Island is currently one of 14 states, and the only New England state, that still employ the master lever procedure in elections.
In addition to serving on the Committee on Judiciary, Representative Craven is the Chairman of the House Committee on Municipal Government and a member of the House Committee on Small Business. He is serving his first term in the House.
For more information, contact:
Randall T. Szyba, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903