Posted by Hilary Forrest on August 05, 2015 at 1:28 PM
Independent Does Not Equal Uninformed
Prior to this internship, I did not realize nearly how many independent voters are out there. I found myself to be unique by stating that I am independent because I am ‘fiscally conservative and socially liberal’- but in fact a whole lot of people say this. The number one reason why voters identify as Independent is because he/she has values that align with both political parties, but does feel beholden to just one party’s platform.
As an intern at Open Primaries, I conduct phone banking each week, surveying active voters about nonpartisan primary elections. The intent is to gather data on how Americans feel about the movement toward an election system based on the candidates, not the parties.
On a call with a voter from Florida, I asked if he would support a top-two system where unaffiliated (not just Democrat and Republican) voters can vote in the primaries too. He responded, “Absolutely not. Independent means uneducated and uninformed and they don’t deserve the right to vote.” I started to question the truth behind this statement.
Am I uneducated because I vote independently? The answer is no. In fact, I think it’s the opposite. I am informed because I choose to vote based on who is running, not which party. Imagine if election ballots had no indication of party labels. It wouldn’t be so easy for a partisan voter to go down the line and swipe every candidate aligned with their party.
Knowing only the names of those running, a voter would be more inclined to come to the polls having done some research on candidate platforms and issues.
So here are some things independent voters actually are:
A person who votes for the man or woman who can do the best job, not who can follow party guidelines and appeal to special interests.
We agree that political party loyalty leads to polarization and uncontested elections.
Independent voters are ‘independent thinkers’ who don’t feel the need to be labeled.
The two party system creates ‘a lesser of two evils.’ Rather than voting for the party’s choice, we want a candidate whose goals match our true interests.
We are the majority. Independent voters now make up 42% of America’s voting population. The remaining 58% is split between Democrats and Republicans.