Independent Connecticut

It should come as no surprise that one of the two Independents in the US senate represents the state of Connecticut. The majority of voters in the state are not affiliated with any political party whatsoever. And their numbers are growing. In 1989, Independents accounted for 33% of registered voters. In 2004, 44% of registered voters in the state were unaffiliated with any party. (See the relevant documents at the Connecticut Secretary of State's web page.) In 2008, despite Barack Obama's popularity, the unaffiliated maintained their independence and their majority, with 42% of registered voters to the Democrats' 37%. Disenfranchised from participation in government by the duopoly system, the unaffiliated are beginning to build their own local political infrastructure divorced from the machines of the Republican and Democratic Parties. Late last year, the Stamford Plus reported that there were twenty-four active parties in Connecticut. This year has witnessed the foundation of at least two more. The Milford, Connecticut Independent Party was launched in April, and now residents in the town of Chester have launched the Common Ground Party. At the Valley Courier, Marianne Sullivan has the story:
Interested in serving on a board or commission, but not a registered Democrat or Republican? The Common Ground Party may offer an answer. The party is seeking candidates to run for town offices in the November election. “Small towns in Connecticut depend on volunteers to populate local boards and commissions. Our towns cannot function without this support,” [Common Ground Party chairman Michael] Sanders said, adding that the avenue to appointment too often lies through the two political parties, who seek registered party members as candidates for boards and commissions. [Emphasis added.] “Some citizens want to participate in government in a non-partisan way, without the party labels. We think we can offer that type of participation.” . . . The new Common Ground Party seeks to attract residents who wish to contribute to local government, but don’t wish to be categorized by national political labels or ideology. Common Ground, Sanders said, will focus exclusively on local issues at this time “and rather than taking dogmatic positions, we want to encourage some open discussion, some freewheeling discussion, because we think that’s part of open government.” . . . In a small town where the November ballot lists 39 positions to be filled through election, it’s often difficult for the political parties to find candidates willing to run. The local Republican and Democratic parties frequently cross-endorse candidates, leave ballot slots unfilled for lack of qualified candidates, or chose candidates from the other party.


Samuel Wilson said...

Connecticut's situation begs the question of whether there are particular election laws that encourage independent campaigns and voting, or whether some mix of voter sophistication and personality politics accounts for it.

d.eris said...

It's a good question. I'll try to look into it.