Block Says Master Lever Critics Will Raise Focus on Fox, Paiva Weed

Apr 2, 2013

John Marion of Common Cause of Rhode Island uses a prop to argue against straight-ticket voting, as Senator Lou Raptakis looks on.
Credit Ian Donnis / RIPR

The leader of efforts to kill straight-ticket voting, Moderate Party founder Ken Block, says opponents of the master lever plan to raise their focus on winning support from House Speaker Gordon Fox and Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed.

“It’s up to the speaker and the Senate president to bring those bills up for a vote in committee to get them to the floor, and now the public pressure begins to mount on both of those offices to do that," Block says. "We’ll be pushing on that very hard over the next month, month and a half.”

Block spoke after the Senate Judiciary Committee voted Tuesday evening to hold for further study a series of bills to do away with the master lever.

A stream of citizens, town officials, and good government groups testified against straight-ticket voting during a hearing that ran about two hours. So many people came to speak in Room 310, a conference room-sized area, that witnesses had to take turns waiting outside.

Block presented ballots from the 2010 election in Burrillville to buttress his argument that the master lever confuses voters and sometimes leads to intended votes being canceled out. The common theme from other witnesses was that straight-ticket voting is a relic and should be consigned to the past.

The only skeptical note came from state Senator Harold Metts (D-Providence), who said some of his constituents like being able to expedite their selection of candidates from a single party. Metts says his constituents who do this are quite aware of what they're doing.