Who Are No Party Affiliated (NPA) Voters in Florida?

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In a recent Florida League of Women Voters Florida On-Line conference call, Dr Susan MacManus (USF Department of Government) characterized Florida NPA voters for the listening audience.  She is one of the leading political science experts in the state of Florida.

According to Dr MacManus, the bottom line is that NPAs are very diverse in their views and hard to characterize regarding their voting preferences from election to election.  Dr MacManus went on to say that when a majority of NPAs vote for a specific candidate that candidate tends to win an election.

Who are these NPAs?  According to Dr MacManus – - -

  •  Over 25% of registered voters in Florida are NPAs or minor party members
  • Over 33% of these voters show up at the polls on election day
  • Over 60% are under age 50
  • Over 25% of voters under 30 register as NPAs
  • Over 50% of these voters are in the age group 30 – 49
  • Young NPAs are turned off by major parties because of negative campaigns

During the question and answer period Dr MacManus was asked about open primary elections in Florida.  She mentioned “universal” primaries as being a feature of Florida elections that exist and are misunderstood by the voters.  Article VI, Section 5(b) of the  Florida Constitution, addresses the issue of what is now being referred to as a “universal primary.” This provision reads:  “If all candidates for an office have the same party affiliation and the winner will have no opposition in the general election, all qualified electors, regardless of party affiliation, may vote in the primary elections for that office.”

As you might expect the parties hate this provision of the Constitution because it might mean that all voters would be allowed to vote for a candidate that might not be of the party’s choosing.  Of course, if a write-in candidate qualifies for the general election, the primary reverts to a closed primary thus maintaining party control.  This “trick” was recently used in a Sarasota Supervisor of Elections race where the potential winner of a Republican primary was going to face no opposition in the general election.  Sure enough, a write in candidate (same party) qualified for the general election and all voters not registered as Republicans were shut out of the voting.

Dr MacManus went on to say that a Top 2 Open Primary like those in California and Washington State would be a better choice to eliminate the political trickery BUT a Top 2 primary would face fierce opposition from the Republican and Democratic parties.

What Dr MacManus has highlighted in her remarks is the overwhelming need to take control of primary elections from parties and place the control in the hands of voters.  Top 2 Open Primaries do just that!  Remember that primary elections were initiated in the early 1900’s to give the people the opportunity to participate in choosing candidates for office, not the party bosses in a smoke filled back room.  What we have now is a primary system where a small group of very vocal, party members skewed to the hard right or hard left determine who NPAs have to choose from in the general election.  No wonder voter turnout is so poor in the United States!

For more on NPAs please read the great article by Sascha Cordner.  She serves as the host and producer of local and state news content for the afternoon news program, All Things Considered at WFSU-FM.

The Independent Voter Network is dedicated to providing political analysis, unfiltered news, and rational commentary in an effort to elevate the level of our public discourse.


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  1. Duane E. Pike Great News! Checked the Florida DOE website and it Looks like the No-Party-Affiliation (NPA) Voters continue to GAIN on the overall number of registered voters! June 2013 2,592,891 March 2013 2,590,970 October 2012 2,572,901 We should also note that the Major & Minor Parties appear to have LOST voters during that time frame. : ) Voter Registration Statistics - June 2013 Voter Registration by Party Affiliation - Current Republican Democrat Minor None Total 4,178,879 4,693,088 336,766 2,592,891 11,801,624 Voter Registration totals reflect the total number of active registered voters in the State of Florida Voter Registration Statistics - March 2013 Voter Registration by Party Affiliation - Current Republican Democrat Minor None Total 4,213,032 4,742,144 338,058 2,590,970 11,884,204
  2. Charlotte Dean it's a testament to just how far amuk the major parties have run when they are ignoring nonpartisan provisions of the state Constitution and granting themselves unconstitutional exceptions, without much public outcry. How was this bait and switch strategy received by the public last time it was employed?
  3. Ray Hudkins Richard, you are right about filing fees being high for US Congress positions. For state senate and rep the combined filing fees are about $1,800. However, a candidate can collect signatures on a petition and avoid paying the fees. Florida statute sets the petition requirement at 1% of registered voters. For state senate the required number is about 3,100. For state rep the required number is about 1,100. If a candidate for office can't generate that number of petition signatures, they aren't going anywhere come election time. Regarding the election results you cite (Crist, Meek, and Rubio for US Senate), Top 2 could have made the difference. Meek was not backed by his own Democrat party outside of the traditional Democratic strongholds. Crist ran as an independent but split the vote with Meek. If Top 2 had been in place the combined Crist/Meek vote would have come very close to defeating Marco Rubio. Head-to-head contests help prevent vote splitting during a general election. Stay tuned for an interesting Governor's race in 2014.
  4. Richard Winger The reform Florida needs most is a reduction in the sky-high filing fees needed for anyone to get on the ballot. The filing fees are so high, Florida has lots of one-candidate elections. If independent voters really want to exercise power, instead of worrying about voting in a major party primary, they should run and support and vote for independent candidates. Fortunately independent candidates in Florida don't need any petition (excepting independent presidential candidates). In 2010, Charlie Crist, who had been a Republican, was able to switch his registration to independent and get on the November ballot for US Senate. He polled 1,607,549 votes as an independent, placing second, far ahead of the Democratic nominee, Kendrick Meek, who only got 1,092,936 votes.
  5. Alex Gauthier are there any filing fees for party backed candidates in florida?
  6. Richard Winger Everyone in Florida pays the same filing fees. The Florida Constitution is the only state constitution that explicitly says ballot access must be equal for all candidates. That is why independent candidates, like Republicans, Democrats, and members of other parties, don't need any mandatory petitions to get on the ballot.
6 comments
Duane E. Pike
Duane E. Pike

Great News!

Checked the Florida DOE website and it Looks like the No-Party-Affiliation (NPA) Voters continue to GAIN on the overall number of registered voters!

June 2013 2,592,891

March 2013 2,590,970

October 2012 2,572,901

We should also note that the Major & Minor Parties appear to have LOST voters during that time frame. : )

Voter Registration Statistics - June 2013

Voter Registration by Party Affiliation - Current

Republican Democrat Minor None Total

4,178,879 4,693,088 336,766 2,592,891 11,801,624

Voter Registration totals reflect the total number of active registered voters in the State of Florida

Voter Registration Statistics - March 2013

Voter Registration by Party Affiliation - Current

Republican Democrat Minor None Total

4,213,032 4,742,144 338,058 2,590,970 11,884,204

Charlotte Dean
Charlotte Dean

it's a testament to just how far amuk the major parties have run when they are ignoring nonpartisan provisions of the state Constitution and granting themselves unconstitutional exceptions, without much public outcry. How was this bait and switch strategy received by the public last time it was employed?

Ray Hudkins
Ray Hudkins

Richard, you are right about filing fees being high for US Congress positions. For state senate and rep the combined filing fees are about $1,800. However, a candidate can collect signatures on a petition and avoid paying the fees. Florida statute sets the petition requirement at 1% of registered voters. For state senate the required number is about 3,100. For state rep the required number is about 1,100. If a candidate for office can't generate that number of petition signatures, they aren't going anywhere come election time.

Regarding the election results you cite (Crist, Meek, and Rubio for US Senate), Top 2 could have made the difference. Meek was not backed by his own Democrat party outside of the traditional Democratic strongholds. Crist ran as an independent but split the vote with Meek. If Top 2 had been in place the combined Crist/Meek vote would have come very close to defeating Marco Rubio. Head-to-head contests help prevent vote splitting during a general election. Stay tuned for an interesting Governor's race in 2014.

Richard Winger
Richard Winger

The reform Florida needs most is a reduction in the sky-high filing fees needed for anyone to get on the ballot. The filing fees are so high, Florida has lots of one-candidate elections. If independent voters really want to exercise power, instead of worrying about voting in a major party primary, they should run and support and vote for independent candidates. Fortunately independent candidates in Florida don't need any petition (excepting independent presidential candidates). In 2010, Charlie Crist, who had been a Republican, was able to switch his registration to independent and get on the November ballot for US Senate. He polled 1,607,549 votes as an independent, placing second, far ahead of the Democratic nominee, Kendrick Meek, who only got 1,092,936 votes.

Alex Gauthier
Alex Gauthier

are there any filing fees for party backed candidates in florida?

Richard Winger
Richard Winger

Everyone in Florida pays the same filing fees. The Florida Constitution is the only state constitution that explicitly says ballot access must be equal for all candidates. That is why independent candidates, like Republicans, Democrats, and members of other parties, don't need any mandatory petitions to get on the ballot.