Senator James Skoufis (D-Hudson Valley) announced that his legislation (S.1851) prohibiting state political parties from using the words “independent” or “independence” in their names has passed both houses.
The measure alleviates a major source of voter confusion: in hundreds of interviews conducted by The Daily News with registered Independence Party of New York voters, roughly 85% were unaware of their party affiliation, assuming they had registered as an unaffiliated ‘independent.’ As of 2020, the Independence Party boasted nearly 484,000 members, meaning that only about 73,000 of those registered joined wittingly.
The party, once referred to as “bizarre and fractious” and “surviving on confusion” by The New York Times Editorial Board, lost its automatic ballot status in 2020 when lawmakers approved a change to election law requiring third parties to garner at least 2 percent of the total vote to retain their ballot line–something the Independence Party could not do. Enacting Skoufis’ bill into law will ensure the Independence Party can never have its ballot access restored.
“The Independence Party was a sham organization that preyed on New Yorkers’ sense of individualism to inflate its member rolls,” said Senator Skoufis. “Voters who may be disillusioned by our party system have the right to remain unaffiliated and shouldn’t be conned into joining a shadow party. I expect the Governor to sign this important measure.”