What do Independent Voters Want?

What do Independent Voters Want?
Cynthia Carpathios

Recently I appeared, along with fellow independent Franz Bauer, as a guest on the popular local TV program “Between the Lines.” Despite a luxury of time — a 10-minute segment — we barely scratched the surface of an important and timely discussion: how to fix our broken political process.

It is no secret that partisanship and gridlock have come to characterize policy making at so many levels of government. In the interview, we talked about the rights of independent voters and discussed the structural reforms needed to address the barriers to full participation that independents face.

Left unsaid was how much structural reforms would empower the 40 percent of Americans who now identify as independent voters and how necessary these reforms are to making our political process functional again.

Without reforms to the process itself, we can’t effectively address the major issues facing us as a nation: the economy, health care, education.

Many of us independents see the exodus from the political parties as a protest against partisanship and gridlock.

Elected officials are compelled to put the concerns of their party first or be subject to discipline by their party. They can be denied committee seats and deprived of campaign funds, leaving them unable to effectively do their job and run a viable re-election campaign.

Independent officeholders have no such constraints and are best situated to lead the work of meaningful reform to our political process.


For years, I have related to a national network of independent voters, IndependentVoting.org. and have this year started an affiliate state organization, Independent Ohio. We are participating in three major activities that would limit partisanship and allow a stronger voice for independents and more ordinary people.

We are joining with independents across the country to advocate for congressional hearings on the barriers that independent voters face to full participation in the political process.
We are gathering signatures in a show of support for top-two nonpartisan open primaries, in which all candidates for an office appear on one ballot and voters can choose the best candidate for each office regardless of party affiliation. The top two vote getters go on to the general election. At some point, the work on this petition could form the basis for undertaking to get an initiative on a statewide ballot to change the primary election process.
We are part of a coalition that is conducting a statewide petition drive to place an amendment to the Ohio Constitution on the November ballot. The amendment would establish an independent citizens commission to create legislative districts, taking this work out of the hands of politicians with partisan interests.

These reforms would more fully enfranchise the plurality of voters who identify as independents and would open the way for broader discussion, for an easing of gridlock and for putting more power in the hands of voters, not political parties.

So what do independents want? We want a government that can successfully create and pass legislation that addresses the serious issues that our country faces. We want a government that the American people experience as representing them and having their interests in mind.

We want a government that works. And we believe that breaking down the barriers that independents face to full participation in the electoral process is where that starts.

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