California citizens should be cautious when they register to vote. According to the grassroots campaign, Don't Be AIPrl_Fooled, hundreds of thousands of Californians have registered as members of the American Independent Party (AIP) believing that by doing so they are registering "independent" of any party or any single ideology. The truth is, AIP is a party with strong ideological roots dating back to 1967.According to
voter registration data, AIP is not only the fastest growing political party in California, but is the third largest party behind the Democratic Party and the GOP. However, the truth is the fast growing segment of the voting age population -- both in California and nationwide -- are independent voters who do not wish to be affiliated with any party. Unfortunately, many are mistakenly registering with a party established in the late 60s to get Alabama Governor George Wallace elected president under a segregationist platform.
What evidence does AIPrl Fooled have to suggest that most registered members of AIP joined by mistake? Perhaps the clearest indicator is how the party's candidates perform in elections.
In the 2012 presidential race, most of the candidates on the ballot earned an excess of their party's registration, meaning the candidate got a higher number of votes than the total turnout of their party. This happened with every candidate, except for one. The AIP candidate, Thomas Hoefling, not only failed to break even with registered AIP voters, but 88 percent of "party members" voted for someone else.
AIP even admits that many of its members are registered with the party by mistake, but may be low-balling this number at roughly a third of its membership. AIPrl Fooled believes the number is actually as high as 95 percent. Judging by the results of the 2012 presidential election and statewide voter trends, the campaign's estimate is likely closer to the truth.Voter registration data indicates that over 130,000 voters registered with the American Independent Party are of Latino, African-American, or Asian decent, over 60,000 are foreign born, and over a third are under the age of 35. Considering the party's origins and far-right policy positions, it seems highly unlikely voters in these demographics would be attracted to AIP's message.
The AIPrl Fooled Campaign launched on Tuesday, April 1, 2014, with a broad online presence to reach out to AIP members about their registration status. Online outreach includes a Twitter account, website, and blast email.