Independents Beware!

Just how fair is the Department of Elections at registering people to the “Independent Party of Delaware,” instead of making them unaffiliated independents?

Guest Post: Claude Hodges

I lived in Kenton for over forty years and twenty years ago I was sergeant- at -arms during five years when Terry Spence was Republican Speaker of the House in Dover.

After more than 60 years as a registered Republican, I finally gave up on the Delaware Republican Party, and decided to change my political party registration.

The Independent Party of Delaware was my selection since it has become obvious to me the two major parties have failed to properly govern the First State.

When I visited the New Castle County Election office, I specifically told them Independent Party of Delaware. Lo and behold, when I received a postcard in the mail confirming my change of party registration, I was improperly registered as “unaffiliated”.

I called Don Ayotte, the new Chairman of the Independent Party of Delaware to complain. Mr. Ayotte informed me it is a frequent occurrence at all three county Election Boards. So to those of you who are as fed up as I am with the Democrats and the Republicans, beware.

Once in office, there’s not a dime’s worth of difference between the Democrats and the Republicans.

Our Delaware government has no problem using whatever means possible, legal or illegal, to stop you from your exercising your constitutional right to register with the Independent Party of Delaware.

Sincerely,

Claude Hodges

Commentary from Don Ayotte, State Chairman of The Independent Party of Delaware

In my capacity as Chairman of the Independent Party of Delaware (IPoD) I’ve dealt with the Dept. of Election on many occasions and have a good relationship with their organization. I have encountered the same problem that Mr. Hodges characterizes in his letter, both on the field as a candidate, and in my capacity as chairman of the Party.

I am known for going door-to-door while on the campaign field and have encountered many Independents while campaigning who said they were Independents and proudly showed me their card with the “I” printed on it. When I told them that in Delaware the “I” meant they were unaffiliated and had no party designation, they replied that they had told the election official that they wanted to be registered for “The Independent Party of Delaware.”

I get calls weekly about this deception scheme on the part of the Delaware Dept. of Elections, and I walk these people through registering with our party. The Independent Party of Delaware was given the designation of “W,” while the unaffiliated independents were given the designation of “I”. This is an ingenious deception on the part of the Dept. of Elections and State of Delaware.

As of January 28th, 2016, there were 659,381 registered voters in Delaware. 154,751 are registered as “unaffiliated independents” and 4027 are registered with the Independent Party of Delaware. If you want to register with our party, you must tell the Dept. of Elections by phone, or go in personally and tell them that you want to be registered with the “Independent Party of Delaware,” and the designation is “W”.

What I believe is a blatant case of discrimination, is the fact that Democrats have the designation of “D”, Republicans have the designation of “R”, Green Party “G” and the Libertarian Party a “L.” Why then, would the unaffiliated independents have the designation of “I” when they are not a party and the Independent Party of Delaware is a legitimate party and the third largest party in Delaware?

21 thoughts on “Independents Beware!”

  1. This also happened quite frequently between 2004-2015, as various cases of misregistration of persons whose intent to register with the IPoD were brought to our attention. A clear pattern of official misfeasance is emerging in voter registration.

    The “Best Kept Secret” in Delaware is that only 5% of total voter registration is required for legal classification as a “major party”. This would enable the IPoD to select its candidates through primaries instead of the archaic “convention” process foisted upon “minor” parties by Title 15 of the Delaware the Delaware Code.

    The dual process system may have made some economic sense before the State of Delaware lifted the cost of primaries from the Democrat and Republican parties through public funding of Delaware’s state and presidential primaries, but it now raises fundamental Tenth Amendment equal protection questions, as public funding of primaries can be construed as a form of political favoritism and discrimination through subsidy of the D and R parties and systematic denial of a public benefit to the alternative parties.

    Depending upon the error rate, 5% of Delaware’s unaffiliated voters may have originally intended to have registered with the Independent Party of Delaware, so if 5% check their polling cards, find “unaffiliated” and reregister as Independent Party of Delaware, we will have truly open primaries where the voters — not the party bosses select their candidates.

    Accordingly, 5% of Delaware’s voters can change the First State’s political destiny, simply by filling out a form!

    Visit independentpartyofdelaware.com for details and click on the REGISTRATION button. For a personal touch, visit the Delaware Department of Elections office in your county of residence and re-register directly.

    When filling out the form, clearly print INDEPENDENT PARTY of DELAWARE in red ink in plain capital block letters to minimize the possibility of error.

    Thank You.

    Wolfgang von Baumgart,
    IPoD Secretary General and Chairman Emeritus

  2. Clearly a case of mnemonic letter variable discrimination.
    Since when does “Independent” begin with a “W” and UNAFFILIATED begin with an “I”?

    Only in Delaware….

  3. The only relief we will be able to get will be in court. When asked about this issue, election officials smile and are courteous but nothing will change.
    Well documented examples of what happened to Mr. Hodges and others must be documented and data stored, before a lawsuit can ensue. It is obvious to me what is happening and it will be obvious in a federal lawsuit or criminal action also.

  4. IPOD is a threat to the legally established duopoly in Delaware. The real deal is that the two party system is about insiders and outsiders. They are not interested in bringing another seat to the table.

  5. Let me ask you something, Don…

    1. When did the State of Delaware begin using “I” to indicate unaffiliated independent voters?

    2. When was iPOD formed?

    Given that “independent” is normally used to refer to voters who are not affiliated with a party, then the concept of calling a political party “independent”, seems sort of designed to claim all independent voters as somehow constitution one’s own membership.

    And, as I recall, we had a go-round with this back in the 1970’s, when a previous “Independent Party” was attempting to take advantage of this very same point of confusion, given that “I” was the default designation – at that time – for voters who were not affiliated with any party.

    The fact that the State of Delaware has long used “I” to designate unaffiliated voters is not some “new thing” that was cooked up to steal your membership, Don. It was a situation created by your choice of name. In law, this is what we call “moving to the nuisance”.

  6. @Nitpicker:

    Just who is “WE” and the alleged previous Independent Party in the 70’s anyway?

    Prior to my2008, the State of Delaware used both the Independent and UNAFFILIATED designations to designate voters who declined to register with a political party.

    In the summer of 2008, the DEC revised its VR database to change voters registered as Independent to UNAFFILIATED , merging the categories under the letter code ” I “, when it would have been more mnemonically accurate to designate Independent Party of Delaware members under the ” I ” code.

    The point of confusion , as you term it, was originally created by the state — not the IPoD.

    Also, according to the voter feedback that we are getting,
    persons registering as “Independent” are assigned UNAFFILIATED status, while persons registering as Republican or Democrat are assigned a party designation , despite the fact that the DEC no longer uses the Independent designation to denote UNAFFILIATED voters.

    FYI, the IPoD officially achieved ballot status on August 29, 2000.

    Feel free to attempt to back up your closing legal theory with facts and/or case law instead of blowing smoke.

  7. @Rick
    You’re great Rick but you can’t read. I’ve posted the numbers and yet you become more sarcastic.

  8. Nitpicker:

    Obviously, your comment about a
    previous go around with another independent party back in the ’70s referred to the American Independent Party (est. 1967) which nominated George Wallace for a presidential run in 1968. Believe it or not , there are still some voters in Delaware who are still registered with same.

    To clear the air, the Independent Party of Delaware is a centrist state-based alternative party that originated in Delaware in 2000 in response to the corrupt and incompetent Democrat-Republical duopoly known as the “Delaware Way”. It’s purpose is to curb special interest domination of state and local government in favor of the People. The IPoD is not currently affiliated with any other ” national” party.

    Its official website is :

    independentpartyofdelaware.com .

  9. Another insidious form of discrimination is the structure of the Delaware Election Commission’s data base and the way it reports monthly voter registration totals.

    Democrat, Republican and UNAFFILIATED totals are quantified, while alternative parties are collectively lumped in the “Others” category, thereby presenting a less than accurate and objective political picture in favor of the D and R parties .

    There really is no excuse for this with modern software systems.

  10. “I am known for going door-to-door while on the campaign field and have encountered many Independents while campaigning who said they were Independents and proudly showed me their card with the “I” printed on it.”

    Well now, that is mighty peculiar. Right now I am looking at a card from the Department of Elections for Sussex County and under “Political Party Affiliation” is written “N Partisan”, which is short for “Non-Partisan”. Nowhere does it state “Independent” or “Unaffiliated.”

  11. … and under “Political Party Affiliation” is written “N Partisan”, which is short for “Non-Partisan”.

    Huh? “N” stand for Nazi. The Nazi Partisans have been on the ballot for years.

    [ Editor’s NOTE: Tell that to Schwartzkopf. ]

  12. @Honi Soit:

    Yes, there are a few people registered as Nonpartisan in Delaware.

    It just further contributes to the level of ambiguity.

    @Rick:

    There are no registered Nazis in Delaware.

  13. There is nothing ambiguous about the designation of “Non-Partisan” as it literally means “no side” or “no party”. If as you say the Dept of Elections uses various terms (unaffiliated, independent, non-partisan) to indicate the same status, then clearly this is an inconsistency that can result in confusion.

    Surely such an inconsistency would warrant an official written complaint from Don Ayotte to Elaine Manlove. I may be misreading the above, but I could not find anything to show that an official written complaint has been filed with the Dept of Elections. If I am mistaken, then please share the complaint with this readership–along with any response from Elaine Manlove or her designee.

  14. The problem goes much deeper than that.

    It is fundamentally a political cultural matter that is exponentially more complex.

  15. In the netherworld of Delaware’s plantation politics, words can be interpreted any way to suit the ruling power at any time convenient or declared as “undefined” to suit their ends.

    That is how Sheriffs were unconstitutionally stripped of law enforcement powers by statute instead of constitutional amendment on the legal whim that the term ” Conservator of the Peace ” was now undefined in contemporary legal parlence in gross neglect of its historical usage.

    Using multiple terms such as “Independent”, “UNAFFILIATED” and “Non-partisan” to denote voters not affiliated with a political party is clearly confusining. Some other states use the term “Decline”. Ironically, from a cultural (as distinct from a civilizational) perspective, the term is most appropriate.

  16. Unless you and /or some of your buddies recently registered as National Socialist Delaware Workers Party, there are no registered Nazis in Delaware. Also, there are no registered Communists.

  17. Another issue is the exorbitant filing fees charged to candidates by the major parties, with the State acting as the bagman. I know of no other state that permits this form of electoral extortion.

  18. There once was a guy who frequently called in to a Wilmington talk radio station and talked about forming a facist party in Delaware, but he did not specify if it would be run according to the Mussolini, Franco or Peron, or neo-facist model.

  19. Greetings from South Carolina Wolf. The next primary debate is about to begin and people are excited and I’ve seen a lot of Trump and Sanders signs in Rock Hill, both in the town and the country. Haven’t seen a Hillary sign yet. Hmmmm.

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