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Maryland Independent Party Dissolves Amongst Voter Confusion

by Bianca Ciotti, published

The Maryland Independent Party, recognized by the state in 2008, has been dissolved due to dormant campaign finances. The state Elections Board voted on June 3rd to withdraw recognition of the party by closing its campaign account. As a result, voters affiliated with the party are free to change their party affiliation for the upcoming elections in November.

The Maryland Independent Party was recognized in 2008 when it campaigned for presidential candidate Ralph Nader. The party has since fallen inactive and they are not supporting a candidate in the current election.

When informed of their dissolution, voters expressed surprise that they were affiliated with the party. On the Maryland voter registration forms, a person may choose to affiliate with a number of parties, including the Independent party, or choose to be unaffiliated. Most voters who chose the "Independent" affiliation believed that they were selecting the non-partisan, or independent option, which Maryland labels as "unaffiliated."

Unbeknownst to many voters, when they thought they were declaring their independence from the party system, they were actually affiliating themselves with a political party. The Maryland Elections Board has not received complaints about the party's dissolution, but received complaints from those who believed they were truly independent from the party system.

Mary Wagner, director of of voter registration for the Maryland Elections Board commented:

"People were actually astounded that they were affiliated with a party."

A cursory search of other states reveals that many have an established "Independent" party. The confusing and bureaucratic process of voter registration may have mistakenly caused people to register under a party which they do not support. Recognized parties vary from state-to-state, as does the jargon on the voter registration forms. Concerned voters across the nation should check their registration and confirm that they are unaffiliated with a party, rather than mistakenly affiliated with an "Independent" party recognized in their state.

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