Chafee declares support for eliminating the master lever

Jan 8, 2013

Governor Lincoln Chafee is throwing his support behind eliminating the master lever.

“It is time for Rhode Island to join the majority of states and eliminate the Master Lever from the ballot,” said Governor Chafee. “Any mechanism that contributes to voter confusion – and worse, voter disenfranchisement – should not be on the ballot. Its time has come.”

In a news release, the governor says eliminating the master lever will further align Rhode Island with neighboring states and provide its citizens with more open and transparent government. 

Chafee's support comes as Moderate Party founder Ken Block has launched a new effort to eliminate straight-party voting in Rhode Island.

Block has created a Web site,, with an online petition calling for eliminating the master lever. He says straight-ticket voting has a distorting effect on politics in Rhode Island.

“When a voter chooses the master lever, and they don’t know who is on the ballot below the top-ticket race, and they end up voting for those people down-ticket," Block says. "That’s harmful to our democracy.”

In related news, Secretary of State Ralph Mollis plans to introduce a bill identical to one he backed in 2011 to kill the master lever, spokesman Chris Barnett says.