For some, choosing a political party is a straight forward process. But what happens when someone indicates their political party preference as the Flying Spaghetti Monster Party, or Zombie Hunters of America Party?
As most of us are aware, Arizona has five officially recognized state parties. Americans Elect, Green, Democratic, Libertarian and Republican. And out of the 3.2 million voters in Arizona, these parties encompass 2.1 million voters. That leaves 1.1 million unaffiliated voters who have chosen not to indicate a party preference, or listed a party which isn’t one of the five recognized parties.
Since 2002, the state’s online voter registration system (EZ Voter) has processed hundreds of thousands of registrations. The web application verifies your eligibility to vote by comparing your driver license number to that of your residential address in real time. To complete the process, the system requires you to designate a recognized political party, or list a party preference in the “Other Party” field. If the registrant lists something other than one of the state’s recognized parties in that particular field, they are placed into the “Other” category of active registered voters.
In addition to reports on voter registration figures, EZ Voter provides our office with a listing of “Other Party” preferences where a few people have taken the opportunity to express themselves in humorous ways, which brings us back to the Flying Spaghetti Monster Party.
In a recent report spanning nearly a year’s worth of EZ Voter registrations, we had several entries which captured our attention. The Awesome Party, Charles Barkleyism Party, Dance Party Party, Democrasaurus Rex Party, Galactic Empire Party, Pants Party, Jethronomics Party and several listings of the Pirate Party to name but a few.
While many of these party preferences are funny, they offer us a glimpse of how people view their participation in the process. As we’ve seen, some view it lightheartedly. Others view the opportunity to list a party preference as a chance to make political or ideological statement by declaring themselves a member of the Constitutionalist, Conservation or Tea Party. Some voters quite clearly indicate their discontent by calling themselves Apathatarians, or members of the Disaffected Party.
Whatever the reason, these voters do not feel compelled to designate a party preference or align themselves with formally recognized parties. Regardless, the responsibility to perform our civic duty remains. And that’s why we must continue to encourage Independent voters to participate in the process.
Many parts of Arizona have an election on August 30th. So whether you are a member of the Klingon Party, Coffee Party, the Honest and Competent Party, Awesome Party, or the Good Decision Maker Party, exercise your most basic of rights. Vote!