Independent? You May Not Be as Alienated as You Think

I've wondered here before whether we would see a drop in independent identification as newly declared independents experienced the consequences of independence and realized that they cannot vote in the major party primary of their choice because they are not affiliated with any party, as is the case in a number of states. But there is also the opposite problem, namely, independents who think they cannot vote in a major party's primary because they are unaffiliated, but who live in states with semi-open primaries, meaning they can. Apparently, this is the case in Arizona. In an opinion piece in the Arizona Republic, Linda Valdez clarifies the law for her readers while also providing a few statistics showing that, over the last six months, while the ranks of Democrats and Republicans have been on the decline, those of independents are on the rise in the Grand Canyon State. She writes:

Independents make up nearly a third of all registered voters in Arizona. Too bad they don't know their own strength. After I suggested in print recently that independents could have a moderating effect on the Legislature by voting in the primary, I got calls telling me independents are barred from primaries.

No, they aren't. "Independents can vote in the primaries," says Secretary of State Ken Bennett. "They should be informed of that," says Steve Lynn, Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission chairman. A registered independent, Lynn says the lack of understanding among independents about their voting rights is a significant problem . . .

Since July, both the Republican and Democratic parties lost voters, according to October figures from Bennett's office. Those who register as no party preference - independents - rose by 17,992. Independents make up 915,981 of the state's 3.1 million registered voters. Republicans are at 1.13 million; Democrats number 1.04 million . . . If voters sit out the primary by choice, that's fine. But if independents stay away because they think they are prohibited, that's disenfranchisement of a growing number of voters.

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