Bi-partisan Effort to Stop Straight-Party Ticket Option
Freshmen Representatives Brian C. Newberry, a North Smithfield Republican and Democrat Michael J. Marcello, of Scituate, have teamed up to submit legislation that would prohibit straight-party voting: the law allowing voters to cast their entire ballots for one party’s candidates by checking a single box at the top of the ballot.
Rhode Island is one of just 16 states that still allow straight-ticket ballots, a holdover from 19th century party machine politics. For years, Rhode Island Republicans have fought to eliminate the option, saying it makes it harder for GOP candidates to break the Democratic party’s hold.
But rarely have Democrats and Republicans come together to push for the change.
“While the straight ticket voting option does make the voting process quicker for some, the controversy surrounding its use has unfairly called into question the legitimacy and fairness of elections,” Marcello said in a statement, ironically issued by the Republican caucus.
“I believe that people who want to vote for all candidates from a particular party will continue to do so, and the elimination of straight-party lever will finally end the speculation that somehow election outcomes would be different.”
“By eliminating this option, it would force candidates to reach out to communities and make their positions known, as opposed to relying on their party hold,” Newberry said in the same statement.”
The bill has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee for a hearing, but none has yet been scheduled.
I’m not holding my breath for a hearing. But we’ll see.