It will soon be illegal for New York State political parties to use the words “independent” or “independence” in their titles. The legislation, introduced by State Senator James Skoufis, has passed both houses and is awaiting Governor Kathy Hochul’s signature.
Skoufis called the Independence Party a “sham organization” and said it needs to be removed from ballots.
According to Skoufis, the party was a major source of voter confusion. As of 2020, the Independence Party boasted nearly 484,000 members. Based on The Daily News’ interviews with a few hundred of those voters, Skoufis believes that only 73,000 of them joined knowingly. He also attributes The New York Times Editorial Board’s belief that the party is “bizarre and fractious,” and “surviving on confusion.”
The Independence Party 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. The Independence Party was unable to do this. Skoufis’ bill will prevent the Independence Party from ever having 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 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.”