Master Lever

Master Lever, or Straight-Ticket Voting Option : a ballot option that offers voters the possibility to vote for the candidates of a specific party for all elections listed on a ballot. According to one study the Master Lever was used by 45 to 58% of Texas voters in 1998-2010.

In the run up to the 2016 general election, the GOP-held legislature of the state of Michigan passed a bill to ban the ML after a number previous unsuccessful attempts. (In Michigan, the Master Lever was believed to benefit the Democrats ever since the Great Depression). The Democrats challenged the bill in the U.S. Supreme Court and argued that eliminating the quick option of voting for all candidates from a single party would disenfranchise African-American voters. The U.S. Supreme Court sided with the Democrats and citing the Voting Rights Act allowed the Master Lever take effect for the November election. Remarkably, the GOP benefited from losing the case. Some of the unexpected GOP winners got nearly half of their votes from voters who pulled the "Republican" lever.

“The Republicans (repealed) straight ticket voting, the Democrats fought it and got it held,

and then we ended being the benefactors of straight-ticket voting,”

state Rep. Lisa Posthumus Lyons, R-Alto, chair of the House Elections Committee.

This recent dispute over the ML in Michigan is only one in a series of debates that most US states went through as they eliminated the ML over the decades. In the 2016 general election, ten states offered the ML option: Alabama, Oklahoma, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Iowa, South Carolina, Kentucky, Texas, Michigan, Utah. 10 out of 10 states voted for Donald Trump.

Our paper investigates the effects of the Master Lever on policies.