Too many of us still think of politics as being black and white and forget about all the gray.
We say what are you, Conservative or Liberal? Democrat or Republican? Left or Right? Donkey or Elephant?
And yet, that's not even close to current reality. Even within the two largest establishment parties, there are gaping, and sometimes angry divisions. We also have many smaller parties in our state, my.florida.com lists 8 additional minor parties that are also gaining members.
The fastest-growing political affiliation of all is 'none of the above', those who want to participate in our democracy but want no part of either party. They are a diverse group, these non-main-party folks. Some have abandoned the mainstream parties as they became disenchanted with their evolution. Others have never, ever wanted to adopt any party's beliefs or candidates.
The largest such party in the state is the Independent Party of Florida . At the height of their membership last October, they had over 262,000 members. Earlier this year however, voters registering as "independent" in Florida were surprised to get a new voter ID card in the mail which revealed they were suddenly without a party. the State had changed the Party name to "Non Party Affiliated " per the Florida Administrative Code Rule.
Ernie Bach, chairperson of the Independent Party of Florida based in Largo was not pleased, Bach told us he was aware last year that the state was planning this and had already reapplied party documents back in September of 16' and the official status of the Independent Party was eventually restored a few months ago in April of this year, but.... "Now all 260,000 have to reapply and 67 county superintendents of elections have to go through the process and time it takes to re-register everyone. It’s just a boondoggle, is what it is. They acted illegally removing our status, this has cost state taxpayers millions and will end up costing many more” He told us over the phone.
Most previous members have no idea they have to reregister. Without new membership statistics from the State, current guesstimates put Independent Party membership only in the hundreds!
Prior to that happening, 24 % of voters in Florida were registered as Independent voters , together with other minor party voters who weren't affiliated with either major party, they represented 27 percent of Florida. That's a dramatic shift from just two decades ago, when only 12 percent of Florida voters were neither Republican nor Democrat.
To put that into perspective, in 13 counties across the state, non-party affiliated voters outnumbered one of the major parties. In Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach, Indepentent's outnumbered Republicans.
In fact, both major parties lost voters in the last election year, according to the State Department of Elections, while Independents continued to grow. The major drawback to registering as an Independent in Florida is: You aren't allowed to vote in primary elections unless you're registered with one of the two major parties.