With an increasingly polarized electorate and the latest Gallup poll showing 45% of Americans identifying as independent voters, one of the critical considerations in deciding on supporting a candidate in this year’s elections is whether they will actually be able to represent their constituents. As our election process strongly favors candidates appealing to their party’s most faithful followers, it’s not likely that we’ll be able to elect candidates that can fairly represent the concerns of all the voters in their districts.
I am an active voter who has been on both sides of the aisle. I have identified as an independent for the past three years and ran for Trenton City Council in 2013 and 2015.
This year I’ve reached out to a number of candidates as part of a project organized by Independent Voting, a national association of independents of which I am a member. I’ve been working to have conversations with prospective candidates about their support for measures that would lessen the stranglehold of partisanship on the electoral process. For example: Would they support independents being represented on the Boards of Election in each county? Right now each of these four-person boards are made up of two members of each of the major parties. Would they support redistricting reform that includes independents in the process? The reforms currently being put forth as solutions to the problem of gerrymandering in Ohio’s Issue 1 only include members of the two major parties. Finally, would they support the right of independents to vote in the 2020 presidential primaries without being required to join one of the parties?
I’ve been particularly interested in the responses to these questions by our candidates for Ohio Secretary of State, as they are running to be the state’s Chief Election Officer who will oversee the election process in the state.
Unfortunately, despite numerous calls and emails and even trying to speak with one of them at a public appearance, neither Kathleen Clyde nor Frank LaRose have been willing to respond directly to these questions. It doesn’t seem surprising that they might not want to address these issues. If they don’t express support, they risk alienating independent voters and if they do express support they risk angering their party leadership.
To fellow Independents and to those Democrats and Republicans who want to vote for an official who is looking to represent their constituents and is not just focused on winning an election – we haven’t found our candidate yet. Please join me in supporting measures that can help bring about an election process that features a level playing field for all voters, regardless of party affiliation or non-affiliation and which can elect candidates who represent their constituent’s interests rather than party interests. Then elected officials can accomplish work they were elected by the people to do.