April 1, 2013

Journal on Master Lever and Senate Hearing

Patrick Laverty

Yesterday, the Providence Journal also came out against the single party voting option, better known around here as the "master lever." In the editorial, the Journal cites itself from another editorial written in 1948, describing the origins of the master lever.

We note that the lever law passed under very dubious circumstances, after an all-night session, in 1948. The Senate rammed it through 20 minutes before adjourning for the year; the House, “without a word of debate, or of explanation,” as The Journal reported then.
Well, I'm so glad that our General Assembly has changed so much in the last 65 years. It's great that the Assembly never jams anything through on the final night, minutes before adjournment in the wee hours...oh wait. What was that they say about those that don't remember history and being doomed to repeat it? Anyway, the Journal also had more.
As the paper editorialized on April 30, 1948: “The purpose, of course, is to help the major parties and to hurt independent parties and independent candidates, by denying them a fair chance to win elections. The act is viciously discriminatory and, we believe, unconstitutional.”
This relates directly to the idea of fair elections and disenfranchising voters. If that's what you care about, then you're in favor of eliminating the master lever.

I'm also glad to read in the article that some Representatives are listening and learning.

“It was certainly compelling. He won my vote,” said freshman committee member Joseph Shekarchi (D.-Warwick), a bright, can-do lawyer who signaled he wants to move Rhode Island in the right direction.

The Senate Judiciary Committee, chaired by Sen. Michael McCaffrey will take testimony on the bill tomorrow, Tuesday, scheduled for 4:30 pm. This may be the public's final opportunity to weigh in directly to our legislators. This is extremely important for people to do, especially in light of comments from people like Judiciary Committee member Senator Stephen Archambault, who said to Ian Donnis at RIPR:

"I think that's a minority push to try to even the playing field, to be frank with you."
Great. We have an elected Senator who is admittedly doing what he can to keep elections an uneven playing field. Is that what we want? Uneven playing fields in elections? Is he saying that if he didn't benefit from this uneven playing field that he'd then be in favor of eliminating it? Sure sounds like it. This is the mentality that we have with some at the State House and this belief needs to be held accountable. If you're available tomorrow, please consider joining in the testimony at the Statehouse and show the remaining uncommitted Senators and those like Senator Archambault why this belief in wrong and needs to be fixed now.

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Thanks for this post, Patrick.

Ken Block has made the irrefutable case (link below) as to how the master ballot has both confused voters and disenfranchised their vote.


Posted by: Monique at April 1, 2013 9:36 PM
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