Mouth That Roars

Bill Liblick has made a name for himself of National TV Talk Shows where he spouted his outspoken views from the front row. Now he offers you his opinion every week in the "MOUTH THAT ROARS" Column in the Sullivan County Post.

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December 21st, 2012

Daily News Exposes Independence Party Deception

One of the greatest freedoms our democracy grants us is the right to vote. If we choose to align with a political party we usually do so based on a philosophy of social and economic issues.

Throughout New York State there are six major political parties, Democratic; Republican; Conservative, which sways right; Working Families, which tilts left, Green, which focuses on environmental issues and is nonexistent in Sullivan County, and the Independence Party which has an ever growing presence here.

The New York Daily News last week exposed the Independence Party in a series of articles and editorials as being a deceptive charade that leads people into believing it is not a political party, but instead is “Independent” from partisan politics.

Founded in 1994, the party grew out of a fight between Republicans. While the name was easily mistaken for “Independent,” the Board of Elections recognized them because it did not fall under any election law prohibitions.

The Independence Party does not operate like a traditional political organization. They did not even endorse a candidate for President. If a local candidate seeks their endorsement they are asked to fill out an online form. Except for allegations of backroom politics at its worst, it is unclear how or who endorses their candidates.

The Daily News called Independence Party enrollment numbers an “illusion.” They conclude the Independence Party “counts on its rolls an astronomical number of people who had no intention of joining and who have no idea they’re listed as members. They hold the appearance of strength only through voter confusion. The Independence Party is a shell whose leaders have wielded undeserved influence over the ballot in New York.”

Eighty five percent of people the Daily News interviewed registered to the Independence Party disavowed knowledge of it. People such as media magnet Rupert Murdoch and CNBC anchor Maria Bartiromo fell under the trap when they thought they were actually unaffiliated to maintain their impartiality.

The Board of Elections classifies “Independent” voters as “blank” someone who does not checkmark a box. The Board of Elections must do something to stop this confusion. Voter registration forms must be redesigned to reduce the Independence Party’s ability to exploit voter error.

In Sullivan County, enrollment in the Independence Party has increased from 1,075 registrants in 2002 to 2,371 in 2012. Although these figures represent only five percent registered voters, its name and presence on the ballot is enough to sway local elections through cross endorsements.

Board of Elections Commissioner Ann Prusinski told me based on her knowledge, “There are individuals registered to the “Independence Party” who in fact believed they were “Independent” of a political organization.”

The majority of those registered in Sullivan County are between the ages of 25 to 34 and 45 to 54. Data shows voters in these age groups tend to view themselves “Independent” voters.

The Daily News called on elected officials “to shun the Independence Party unless its leadership changes the organization’s name so as to make clear that the party is, in fact, a party and not a general repository for independent voters.”

The chairperson of the Independence Party in Sullivan County is Tammi Chaboty, wife of Undersheriff and Republican Party operative Eric Chaboty. Mrs. Chaboty did not respond to my request for a comment on the Daily News expose.

1 comment to Daily News Exposes Independence Party Deception

  • Phil Featherbay

    I changed from being a strong working Republican a few years ago and became a member of the Independence party to # 1 make a statement against the local county chair and the members of his executive board who rubber stamped everything he did. #2 I knew of the independence party and wanted to be a part of it. But I found out that all parties are the same, just depends on which way the wind blows.