A trip to the mailbox just got a bit more disturbing for some Florida voters. Registered Independent Party voters are being notified by their local election boards that their party affiliation has been “canceled.”
The official notice states:
Because the Independent Party of Florida has been cancelled by the state of Florida, your party has been changed to No Party Affiliation (NPA) until further notice from you. This Voter Information Card serves as your official notification of the change.
If NPA is not the party affiliation of your choice, please submit a voter registration application.
The Orlando Sentinel reports,
The Independent Party of Florida, founded in 1992, was stripped of its official status because it didn’t use a certified public accountant to audit its finances in 2014.
It’s a potentially nonexistent technicality that sounds like an excuse for something else. In fact, the stipulation that a CPA must be used to audit a party is not there, just that it be “publicly audited.” Given Florida’s horrific voter suppression efforts since Republican Gov. Rick Scott took office in 2010, banning Independent Party voter registration feels like a creepy attempt to disenfranchise up to 260,000 registered Florida voters.
Another possible reason for making the Independent party ‘disappear’ may have equally undemocratic roots. During the 2016 election season, conservative presidential candidate Evan McMullen tried to get his name on the Florida ballot as the Independent Party candidate. He was on the ballots in Minnesota and South Carolina as their Independent Party candidate. In Florida, though, McMullen’s application was blocked, by none other than staunch Trump supporter, Gov. Rick Scott.
Since Florida is a ‘closed primary’ state, only voters registered Republican or Democrat are allowed to vote in primary elections. Whether or not this is also a move to boost statewide numbers for the GOP is something to think about, especially if re-registrations for Independent’s who choose the Democratic Party are ‘magically’ wiped from voter rolls. Those who don’t realize that their new voter registration cards never arrived would be in for a big surprise when they tried to vote in the next election.
Per the official notice, voters who decide not change their party affiliation are still allowed to vote in the general election. And since Independent Party voters were not allowed to vote in primaries anyway, nothing on that front will change. Hopefully.
Independent Party chair Ernie Bach plans to try to reinstate his party’s status in Florida, as soon as the state requirements are met: All 67 local election boards must notify all registered Independent’s that their party has been purged from the ballot. If Bach is successful, it’s unclear if the newly designated ‘NPA’ voters will automatically have their Independent status restored, or if they’ll have to file another voter registration application.
Tell lawmakers what you think of their plans for your future by calling the Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121.
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