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Beyond the Headlines: Party Bosses Say Independents Shouldn't Be Allowed to Vote

by Caitlin Hurkes, published

As events from this past week portray, there is a growing divide between the leadership within the two major political parties and members of the American public.

While other establishment candidates have remained relatively silent on the issue of independent voter participation, Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders responded to Wasserman Schultz explaining that “more and more people are going outside the Democratic and Republican parties; we have millions and millions of independents out there. To say that when a primary takes place… should be disenfranchised...makes no sense at all.”

Sanders is right. Within just the past two weeks 3.2 million registered voters were excluded from the primary contest in New York and over a million voters were disenfranchised during the four closed primaries on April 26.

Meanwhile, voters in open primary states are participating in record numbers.

U.S. Independent Voters Aren’t Alone

The rejection of major party control over the political process is not unique to the United States. Debbie Benrey reports that Mexican voters are rejecting party control of elections and government as well.

She says independent voters in Mexico are tired of the three-party system that has dominated politics for over seven decades.

Even though the Mexican Constitution gives every citizen the right to vote and run for elected office, the political parties make it exceptionally difficult for them to do so without joining a political party first, Debbie explains.

Is the Tide Turning Against the Establishment?

Since independent voters now outnumber Republicans and Democrats, Kathryn Bullington questions whether or not this is politics-as-usual or if the 2016 campaign is a season of change.

She explains that third party and independent candidates are building coalitions across the country to provide the American public with alternative choices.

And, when voters are asked if they would vote for Trump or Clinton, many say they want more options.

Back in January, IVN conducted a poll which amassed over 16,600 responses from our audience. They were asked: "If the presidential election were held today, for whom would you vote?" An overwhelming 73% stated that they would not vote for Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump.

Yet, these are now our two "presumptive" nominees. They also have the lowest favorability ratings of all front-runners since 1984, particularly among independent voters.

Looking Ahead

There are five weeks of the presidential primary season ahead and many voters still have the chance to exercise their most fundamental democratic right, despite limited choices.

Coming on the heels of mass voter outrage and confusion over registration deadlines in Arizona and New York, Greg Parker explains what California's voters need to know if they want to vote in the presidential primary on June 7.

Greg describes that under California's election law, independent voters can vote for Democratic, Libertarian, or American Independent candidates only if they request a ballot for these parties. For those wishing to vote in the Republican primary, they must change their party affiliation by May 23.

New Jersey's presidential primary is also June 7. However, independent voters wishing to participate must have changed their party affiliation by April 13, 55 days prior to primary election day.

It is likely that New Jersey's independent voters, now almost 48% of the electorate, might experience the same confusion and outrage at the polls as New York voters did.

What is discouraging in the outset might have a positive ending as there appears to be more bitterness emanating from the American public against the exclusionary policies of the two-party system, especially during this election season. That’s why new ideas like a ‘public primary’ option for nonpartisan voters are making their way into the public discourse.

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