Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Independent Party Voters Now Actually Independent

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Independent Party Voters Now Actually Independent

Article excerpt

COMMENTARY

What the state did to the Independent Party of Florida might be called unfairly picking on a small and not-so-rich political organization.

I'm not at all sure about that, but I get the argument.

On the other hand, the result might undo some confusion that the party's misleading and oxymoronic name has caused for years.

That confusing name seems to have boosted the state's largest minor party's registration numbers, because some voters seem to register as "Independent" when they probably mean to just be "independent," as in no party affiliation.

Or so goes a theory that is hard to prove but makes sense.

Either way, you have probably not noticed any uproar about official notices that recently told more than a quarter of a million Florida voters that their Independent Party affiliation is being removed from their voter registrations because that party is no longer recognized by the state.

I haven't heard a single complaint, though those notified include 7,500 Sarasota County registered voters. They got letters in mid February.

The letters gave them a choice: Mail back a response to designate a different party affiliation, or do nothing and be automatically listed as NPA, or "no party affiliation."

The same choice was given to 4,133 Manatee County voters, and to the more than 260,000 registered Independent Party voters statewide.

The lack of noisy protest is surely the result of an unfair lack of press coverage of an unfair move by Florida's Division of Elections, says Ernest Bach, the chairman of the officially non-recognized party.

"It's a big story," Bach told me.

Actually, it is a story that is kind of hard to size up, in part because the way his party got into this jam is so unimpressive.

Bach insists his party was the victim of targeting by the Florida Division of Elections, probably because voters registered with Independent Party affiliation had become numerous enough for major parties to see them as a threat worth squelching. …

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