Rhode Island House of Representative Judiciary Committee Meeting, March 13, 2013

[7:30] One more: For the record, Reps still present: Ajello, Costa, Marcello, Almeida, Walsh, Martin.
[7:23] Testimony on the Master lever has concluded. On to a bill requiring board of canvassers to report on provisional ballots. Signing off, for the moment…
[7:20] Margaret Kane: Eliminating the Master lever requires voters to read the ballot and know who they’re voting for. The current Master lever is an equal opportunity disaster for all parties, and the “programming” part of it cannot be fixed without throwing out the whole system.
[7:19] Mark Binder: Candidates should want people to vote for them as individuals.
[7:15] Sean Gately: It’s a disservice that this bill has been held for further study. Chairwoman Ajello tells him that he is off-topic. Gately adds that getting rid of the master lever will do more for Rhode Island’s image than calamari or gay marriage.
[7:11] Poll-worker from North Kingstown notes that a common case for people asking for a new ballot is mistakes concerning the master lever.
[7:08] Steven Tetsner: The flaws in the system we have is an insult to anyone who puts the energy into running a serious campaign.
[7:06] Matt Guerra: Master lever made sense for a mechanical voting machine, where you can see the results, and reverse the individual choices you want to.
[7:02] Bev Clay from OCG: She’s seen ballots from West Greenwich that look the same as the Burrillville ballots. People don’t realize what the master lever does. Mentions the issue of ML votes wiping out all votes in multi-candidate local races.
[7:00] Mike Puyana from the Rhode Island Tea Party — Master lever discourages the informed and engaged voting that is central to democracy.
[6:58] Chairwoman Ajello has returned.
[6:57] Abel Collins: Representing the Sierra club and himself, he supports repealing the master lever. It doesn’t add anything, but it does create confusion.
[6:48] Meg Rogers: The Master Lever should be allowed to pass into history like corsets and manual typewriters.
[6:46] Representatives for the League of Women Voters and Common Cause of Rhode Island support elimination of the Master Lever. Common Cause Rep reiterates that his group has been involved with gathering the empirical data showing confusion, and there’s no good reason to keep it.
[6:45] Note: Now that Reps Ajello and Blazejewski have told the other Reps they can’t vote without leadership permission, they’ve already left the room. And why should they stay? They’re on the inside, and committee meeting aren’t the place where decisions are allowed to be made.
[6:42] Rep. Craven is asking Healey if the evidence of confusion that’s been demonstrated might make the master lever something could be challenged in court.
[6:39] Bob Healey says if there’s a Master Lever on the ballot, there’s a chance for confusion. If there’s no Master Lever, there’s no chance for confusion, and Ken Block’s work has shown it would be wise to get rid of it.
[6:34] Lisa Blais from OSTPA states that repealing the Master Lever will make every vote count, and it should be passed out of committee and to the floor as quickly as possible.
[6:32] Of course, the vote is not binding. Which makes it no different from any other vote taken, before the committee seeks leadership permission first.
[6:31] Edith Ajello holds a show of hands of people who are opposed to their legislation. From what I saw, no one raised their hands.
[6:24] Comparison between partisan and non-partisan races in Burrillville was 131% greater on ML ballots than on non-ML ballots.
[6:23] More states have gotten rid of the master lever than have early voting (which RI is seriously considering).
[6:22] People are using the Master Lever to indicate their political philosophy.
[6:21] On one ballot, a person connected the lines for all parties.
[6:18] Block is going through all of the weird permutations of what can happen with the Master Lever — 61% of people who voted “Moderate party” in Burrillville created no Moderate votes, because voters individually chose other party candidates in all races…
[6:15] Ken Block: In seven years of testifying on the master lever, I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone say we need to keep it.
[6:11] Representative from the SoS says his office believes 1) that people think they’re answering a question of what party do you belong to when they pull the master lever and 2) it leads to undervoting in non-partisan races.
[6:08] Spencer Dickinson is describing his version of a master lever bill, and tying it to his top-2 gubernatorial runoff bill, because they would both have impact on third party candidates.
[6:05] But, Marcello says his rationale has advanced — he’s convinced by some of the work that Ken Block has done that the master lever creates confusion.
[6:04] OK, Master lever is up. Rep. Marcello introduces the bill; he says he’s concerned that some people’s victories are questioned, because of the master lever.
[5:59] Still here, waiting for the Master Lever issue to come up. We’re still on the issue of whether the law needs to be changed, to specify that people in line to vote but outside of the polling place should be allowed to vote.
[5:44] Ooops. Ajello says she described the wrong bill. Hard to believe that someone who’s been doing meetings this way for so long can’t stay on the script. After all, we learned tonight that there’s nothing else in a House Judiciary meeting, but the script.
[5:42] Ajello introduces the bill to let people in line with the polls close at 8, rather than “inside of the polling place” cast their ballots.
[5:38] Phil Marcelo reports the San Bento bill that makes mail ballot recounts difficult has been withdrawn.
[5:22] Moving on to several mail ballot bills, as we continue with Committee theatre.
[5:10] And now, after a naked display of discipline over democracy, the committee is discussing “elevating democracy” with respect to the early voting bill.
[5:06] And after the fake AG bill is disposed of, the committee votes to hold all bills for further study, with only Rep. Costa voting no. Rhode Island Democratic reps seem to think it’s their job to rubber stamp whatever that leadership approves. Terrible day for democracy in Rhode Island.
[5:05] Rep. Costa objects. Ajello rules her out of order, because we have a hearing to conduct.
[5:03] Representative Ajello declares last night’s ethics vote void.
[5:01] Blazejewski tries to undo last night’s ethics bill vote.
[5:00] Roll called. O’Neill’s name not.
[4:57] Chairwoman Edith Ajello has arrived and is in her seat. Rep. Michael Marcello, sponsor of one of the master lever bills is here also.
[4:53] Enough people in the room, that they are directing people to an overflow area. Maybe they’ll be able to watch the meeting with Rep. O’Neill.
[4:44] Katherine Gregg of the Providence Journal has just tweeted that Representative Patrick O’Neill has been stripped of his seat on the House Judiciary Committee.
[4:34] OK, back to liveblogging the meeting at hand. There’s already a full House in 313. Ken Block, Donna Perry, Bob Healey, Abel Collins, Mark Zaccaria among others…
[4:31] But the rationale for undebatability only makes sense if the people who voted it out of committee will be guaranteed an opportunity to send it again to the floor.
[4:29] That is the spirit of why the motion to recommit is undebatable.
[4:25] …and when a bill is sent to committee, it (might) make sense to let the committee do its work on its substance, and wait until it comes back, before spending any time seriously debating it.
[4:20] To keep the process efficient, you want the folks on the committee to do the fine detail work. Again, in our ideal deliberative body, the committee is a smaller group, with a smaller list of responsibilities, so it makes sense to let them do the bulk of the work in drafting a bill…
[4:19] Ideally, everyone gets to say their piece and a vote is taken, and a decision is made with input from everyone.
[4:16] Imagine real people, with real constraints on their time in energy, who have to make real decisions, but in the ideal deliberative body…
[4:14] The motion to recommit is undebateable (as the Rhode Island Senate reminded us, several years ago). There is actually a reasonable logic behind this…
[4:11] While we’re waiting, let’s try an experiment in stream-of-consciousness writing, pondering uses and abuses of the motion to recommit…
[4:09] The bell calling Senators and Representatives to the floor is ringing. On the House side, they only have one bill to consider today, so their floor session should be relatively quick.
[4:07] Here’s the whole agenda for today, starting with the no pretending to be the Attorney General if you’re not bill.
[4:00] Good afternoon, from the Rhode Island Statehouse, room 313. I will be liveblogging today’s House Judiciary Committee, where the bill to eliminate the master lever, among others will be considered.

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joe bernstein
joe bernstein
8 years ago

Ajello,Blazejewski-“progressives”-NO-just hacks-someone who knew what the word “progressive”actually meant would support stronger ethics-they have none at all-too bad Myrth York rules the East Side because Ajello and Blazejewski need to be thrown out on their asses(along with that NY interloper Yurdin)

8 years ago

“Rep. Costa objects. Ajello rules her out of order, because we have a hearing to conduct.”

8 years ago

when are these pieces of crap going to be dealt with. so sick of dealing with 3rd world in RI

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