California’s Newest Almost-A-Political Party

Even many of those who follow California politics most closely may not have heard about the new and unique political party which may have enough registered voters to become ballot-qualified, but is being held up on a technicality.

An article in the November edition of Ballot Access News, “California Secretary of State Refuses to Tally Independent Party Registrations” detailed the efforts of the Independent Party to become ballot-qualified.

According the the article by Richard Winger, the party was formed for non-partisan reasons. Wait, what? A non-partisan party? Yes…

Earlier this year, the Independent Party was formed, partly to assist independent candidates. Under current law, an independent candidate for Congress and partisan state office must have “party preference: none” on the ballot. Most independents would rather have “independent” on the ballot next to their names.

Accordingly, the Independent Party will have no platform.

The problem? The Secretary of State says that the party name is too similar to that of the American Independent Party. Winger points out an inconsistency, noting that the Secretary has allowed political parties with names like Americans Elect Party (2011) and American Freedom Party (2015) to register… so why not the Independent Party?

The Secretary of State does not say no party can ever be called “Independent Party.” Instead he says the name “Independent Party” is too similar to the name of the American Independent Party, which has been a qualified party in California since 1968. However, the Secretary of State let Americans Elect qualify in 2011, and over the past 37 years there have been 19 political bodies with “American” as part of their name. Just a few months ago the Secretary of State let the American Freedom Party register as a political body. At one time or another, 43 states have had two parties simultaneously on the ballot that shared a common word in their names, such as “Socialist” and “Socialist Labor.”

Stay tuned. Fortunately for us, Richard Winger is watching.