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Governor Hochul Signs Law Restricting Voter Affiliation Preferences

A Dutchess County sample ballot showing five choices for Supreme Court Judge. Voters can select up to five candidates. Mid-Hudson News file photo.

ALBANY – Governor Hochul has signed a law restricting the words “Independence” or “Independent” from ballots in the state to reduce voter confusion. For a lengthy amount of time, the Independence Party in New York had more than 400,000 members registered. Many elected officials felt that voters enrolled in the Independence Party thinking they were not enrolling in a party but rather avoiding party affiliation by declaring independence. The bill was sponsored by Senator James Skoufis (D-Cornwall), who said, “A party known for preying on independently-minded New York voters to inflate its rolls should have no place in our democratic system.” The Assembly version of the bill was sponsored by Assemblyman Jeff Dinowitz of the Bronx. Additionally, the words “American”, “United States”, “National”, “New York State”, and “Empire State” have also been banned from appearing on ballot lines. “Our number one priority when conducting elections should be to provide clear and accurate information to voters,” Dinowitz said. “For an organized political party to call themselves ‘Independence’ when in reality they are frequently working hand-in-hand with major political parties, I just think that’s not right.” The Independence Party failed to meet new signature requirements in New York and has not appeared on state ballots since 2020. Rep. Lee Zeldin’s failed gubernatorial campaign attempted to revive the party line this year, with the assistance of Republicans, but was unsuccessful.

Source: Mid-Hudson News

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