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The Verde Independent | Cottonwood, Arizona

home : latest news : state April 29, 2016

3/18/2014 7:36:00 AM
Independent voters outnumber GOP, Democrats in Arizona

Howard Fischer
Capitol Media Services

PHOENIX -- Independents now outnumber both Republicans and Democrats in Arizona as voters continue to abandon the two major parties.

But that actually could lead to further political polarization on both ends of the political spectrum, at least in the short term.

New figures Monday from the Secretary of State's Office show there are now 1,134,243 people registered to vote who have chosen not to belong to any of the four recognized parties. The other two are the Libertarian and Independent American parties; the Green Party failed to maintain enough voters.

Pollster Earl deBerge said the numbers are no surprise as more and more Arizonans are "disaffected' by the two major parties. He said those who choose not to register with them want a more moderate path.

But deBerge noted that independents just don't vote when it really counts: in the primary.

Secretary of State Ken Bennett agreed. He said it's not unusual to have 60-plus percent of people registered with parties actually vote in the primary.

State law allows independents also to vote in either party's primary. But Bennett estimated that fewer than 10 percent of them bother to show up for the late-August vote.

It's actually worse than that: Maricopa County Elections Director Karen Osborne put the independent turnout in 2012 at just 7 percent.

So who's left in the party -- and who turns out -- are those who are the true die-hards.

"As the parties shrink ... moderates move to the center and become independents,' deBerge said. And that is happening with both parties.

"As that happens, there's no doubt there's no doubt that the parties will become more 'dogmatic' by virtue of the fact that the people who are left are more dogmatic,' he said.

That's also the contention of pollster and political consultant Bruce Merrill.

"The people that stay in the parties are increasingly going to be more ideological,' he said. "It's the people that are kind of disgusted with what's going on with both the Democratic and Republican sides that leave the party.'

Pollster Michael O'Neil also has watched the trends from the time two decades ago when independents were fewer than 15 percent of the electorate.

"I think it kind of reflects a general disgust in the culture,' he said. "As people are registering to vote, they're saying, 'I really don't like either of these guys.' '

But O'Neil, while agreeing that that independents do not turn out that the polls, is not sure that the declining numbers of those who identify themselves as Republicans or Democrats will create more extremist politics than what already exists in Arizona.

Bennett, though, said he can foresee the possibility of the disaffected voters leaving the parties -- and leaving the parties -- and the primaries -- to the true believers.

More to the point, he noted that the primary becomes the de facto election in the vast majority of legislative districts where one party or the other is so dominant that the other party's candidate really stands no chance in the November general election. So the ultimate winners become the candidates who appealed to those who continue to remain registered with their parties.

That left Bennett, who also is in a crowded Republican primary for governor, to plead for more independent participation in the primaries.

"We encourage a better turnout amongst this very important group in our primary elections,' he said.

There is an alternative to make independents more relevant: A top-two primary, where all candidates run against each other and all voters get to make their choices. Then the top vote-getters face off in the general election, even if it turns out that both are Republicans.

Voters had a chance to create such a system in 2012 but the measure was rejected.

Merrill thinks the problem will resolve itself as older voters -- the ones most linked to parties -- die off and candidates realize they cannot count on party affiliation to get them elected.

Taylor Waste

Unusual political 'parties' among newly registered voters
Capitol Media Services

PHOENIX -- While the plurality of voters are now registering as independent of the recognized political parties, that does not mean they don't self-identify with some philosophy.

The voter registration forms allow those signing up to specify which what party they want to be affiliated. And there's nothing in Arizona law it has to be a recognized party -- or any sort of party at all.

So in the most recent voter registration drive, the Secretary of State's Office had 264 people signing up as members of the Tea Party.

But there also were 42 who said they were members of the Socialist Party, 39 in the Constitution Party and even 13 who aligned themselves with the Communist Party.

And there were some even more unusual choices.

Consider: 12 Arizonans signed up as members of the Jedi Party. There also were 10 Whigs and three Modern Whigs.

Two chose to be members of the Jesus Party with an identical number signing up with the Rent Is Too Damn High Party.

And then there were folks who became their own parties, including a Vegetarian, Jivan Scientist, Free the Weed, Medical Marijuana, Bull Moose and Twelve Visions Party, to say nothing of Arizona having a registered Klingon.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Tuesday, August 19, 2014
Article comment by: John Mealer

Just a quick note to ask fellow Independent voters in Arizona to check out my campaign as the union's first Independent Constitutionalist to make ballot access since George Washington. I just so happen to be on Arizona's governor list.
The only man with a solid series of plans and no political ties to hold me back from serving you rather than a party.
I can use your help in the primaries August 26th where I will need some added Independents or no choice selected voters to request the Americans ballot and check my name.
The more noise we make, the easier it is for our voice to be heard in the D's and R's debates.

How about it? My info is on the website in detail and contacts for your county recorder if need be. Thanks!


Posted: Monday, May 12, 2014
Article comment by: AZ Hawaiian

Just changed party affiliation to Independent from Republican. Republicans no longer have the wherewithal to stand up to the Democrats. JFK would be ashamed of his party if he was still alive (he would have been 97). The Republicans are always compromising to the Democrats and the Democrats could care less about anyone other than those who tote their ideologue. Democrats are just flat out mean and vicious people. Their ideologue is contention rather than cooperation. Democrats went from inclusion to hatred, and Republicans went from standards and principles to giving up the farm. Independents are tired of both parties, and that's why I registered today as an Independent.

Posted: Thursday, April 10, 2014
Article comment by: Robert Winn

Itsy bitsy spider

Glad I could be of help. I have tried for years to get events like the ones I mentioned publicized, but the news media is nothing more than a propaganda agency for two-party corruption. About all I have ever seen them write about independent voters is how much we love and support Janet Napolitano. But to give them credit where credit is due, they did make note of independent voters becoming the largest voting block in the state. As a voting block, here is what I think we should do. You decide for yourself what you believe and support in government, and I will do the same, and we will both work for free and open elections. Take a look at the Arizona Constitution sometime. It requires free and open elections. So we are living under the political party interpretation of free and open elections. When Josef Stalin was dictator of the Soviet Union, they had what they called free and open elections there. All candidates were Communist Party candidates. That kind of election embodies the political party ideal. Party voters can all vote for the winning candidates, which is the highest goal of political party voters. Independent voters tend to want to vote for candidates they agree with politically, something party voters do not understand. To them the object is to vote for a winning candidate, and then they can determine what their political beliefs are from what the winning candidate says.
If you are interested in something else from history, read what George Washington said about political parties in his Farewell Address, published in 1796.

Posted: Wednesday, April 9, 2014
Article comment by: Living in Arizona?

"12 Arizonans signed up as members of the Jedi Party. There also were 10 Whigs and three Modern Whigs.

Two chose to be members of the Jesus Party with an identical number signing up with the Rent Is Too Damn High Party.

And then there were folks who became their own parties, including a Vegetarian, Jivan Scientist, Free the Weed, Medical Marijuana, Bull Moose and Twelve Visions Party, to say nothing of Arizona having a registered Klingon."

Guess Zonis aren't as bad as I thought politically...we have a Klingon!!!

Posted: Wednesday, April 9, 2014
Article comment by: itsy bitsy Spider

Thanks for the history reminder, Mr. Winn. Obviously, Democrats and Republicans can work together quite well whenever officialdom needs protection from plebeians.

Note that TOP TWO--the incumbent-shielding primary system--has raised its ugly head again, this time lamented by a Republican incumbent who wants to be governor. (Remember, in 2012, Democratic hopefuls were promising Independents that Top Two would give them power at the polls. Republican incumbents like Bill The Weasel Montgomery were pretending to be against it.)

Meanwhile, other more viable primary options such as instant run-off (which would limit the electoral power Independents actually do possess in Arizona) were drowned out.

Posted: Wednesday, April 9, 2014
Article comment by: Robert Winn

The voters of Arizona approved an open primary in 1998, which caught party politicians by surprise. Their solution to the difficulty that independent voters presented to their absolute control was proposed by Democratic State Attorney General Janet Napolitano. Move the Presidential Primary to February, she proposed, and she would provide an opinion that independent voters could not vote in the Presidential Primary, effectively putting independent voters back where they were with a closed primary, now paying for two primary elections which exclude them from participation in government. Republican legislators gleefully jumped all over Janet's idea and rewarded her by getting her elected governor of Arizona. In 2005 Governor Janet signed into law a Senate bill to remove the option to register independent from the Arizona voter registration form with the following effect on independent voter registration:

2000-2002 107,715
2002-2004 165,771
2004-2006 26,384

The problem that Democrats and Republicans have is that while they were engineering this temporary decrease in independent voter registration voter registration for both major parties went negative in Arizona. So who do you think is going to win this contest, independent voters, or these two incredible shrinking political parties?

Posted: Thursday, March 20, 2014
Article comment by: Randy Hunt

Registering Independent is a statement of freedom to not be bound by

what the ruling class has to offer. They lead us to believe that we

are free thanks to them. What is so free about a system that is

limited to the rules and whims of a corrupted 2 parties? After all,

we do live in a free society, right? I am free, I have a Birth

Certificate, SS#, all the required licenses, permits, bonds,

certifications, etc. that are required to prove I can freely and

legally do anything they say I can. For all you staunch Democrats &

Republicans, just keep feeding on the fodder and you will be happy.
fod�der (fŏ d′ ə r)
1. Feed for livestock, especially coarsely chopped hay or straw.
2. Raw material, as for artistic creation.
3. A consumable, often inferior item or resource that is in demand

and usually abundant supply

Posted: Wednesday, March 19, 2014
Article comment by: Many Are Registered, But ....

NO citizen in Arizona has "Full Voting Rights".

We need to encourage elected officials (state,
county, local) to put all 24 rights of our "Full
Voting Rights" into the state constitution/laws/

Until then no one has "Full Voting Rights".

Thanks and Good Luck,

Frank Henry
(Full Voting Rights Advocate)

Posted: Tuesday, March 18, 2014
Article comment by: Alex Zane's

Eventually, the extremists will be wiped out in a single election in which the independents decide they had enough.

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