CORRECTION: Massachusetts DOES NOT Convert Registered Libertarian Voters to Independents

UPDATE: The original story below is incorrect. As a result of posting it here and ensuing comments, it has been corrected at the original source.


Ballot Access News reports

Because most states purge their voter registration rolls between elections, the United States has fewer registered voters now than in October 2010. There are fewer Democrats now, fewer Republicans now, fewer independent voters now, and fewer voters in each nationally-organized minor party now. The nationally-organized parties that existed in 2010 and that have as many as 500 registrants in the nation are the Libertarian, Green, Constitution, Working Families, Reform, Socialist, and Socialist Workers Parties, in that order.

Americans Elect did not exist in 2010, and now has 3,285 registrants, so it is the only nationally-organized party that now has more registrants than in 2010.

However, there would be more registered Libertarians in the nation now than there were in October 2010, except that sometime during late 2010 or early 2011, Massachusetts converted all registered Libertarians to independents without telling them or without telling the party officers. Massachusetts had 15,857 registered Libertarians in October 2010, and did not do a new registration tally until last month, when the state said there are only 15 registered Libertarians. If the Libertarian Party still had the registrants it had had in October 2010, it would be the only nationally-organized party that had existed in 2010, and which gained nationally between 2010 and now.

Massachusetts keeps track of how many registrants there are in each group that tells the state that it wants that service. The Massachusetts term for such groups is “political designation.” Such groups never need to reapply for status as a “political designation”; Massachusetts continues keeping a tally for them, even if they have utterly ceased to exist as organizations (for example, the Natural Law Party).

But there is an exception in the case of political designations that become qualified parties, and then later lose their status as a qualified political party. The Libertarian Party had 12,534 registrants in Massachusetts when it was just a political designation, in October 2008. It became a qualified party in November 2008, by polling over 3% for U.S. Senate. In November 2010 the party lost that status when it didn’t run any nominees for statewide office. It didn’t realize it was supposed to immediately reapply for status as a “political designation.” If the Secretary of State’s office were courteous, it would have asked the Libertarian Party if it wanted to now be a “political designation”, since it was longer a qualified party, but instead the state said nothing to the party, and eliminated all its registrants, and now the party has to start accumulating registrants from scratch.

Arizona, California, Florida and, Pennsylvania are the only states that have more registered Libertarians than, Massachusetts, did before they got wiped out. Oregon, North Carolina and Kansas (just barely) have over 10,000 each. 25 states have known numbers of registered Libertarians; four of these have less than a thousand each.

UPDATES:

1) George Phillies, from comments:

Assuredly, the change from Political Party to Political Designation status has happened several times: 1996, 2006, and 2010, and in the first two cases voter registrations were maintained, and the state Libertarian Association did absolutely nothing to cause registrations to be maintained.

2) Richard Winger, from comments:

If anybody in Massachusetts wants to be 100% sure that my report is true, send me an e-mail to richardwinger@yahoo.com and I will forward you the electronic Massachusetts registration report that the Secretary of State’s office e-mailed to me less than a week ago.

That report has been forwarded to me and I am attaching it here:. MA.enrollment_count_31DEC2011 (2)

I am presuming that since this is information from the state government that there is no problem with posting it here. If there is a problem that I am unaware of, please let me know and I will take it down.

It appears that it shows 10,839 registered Libertarians, not 15. I’m awaiting explanation from Mr. Winger and will update the post again or put up a new one.

UPDATE

Richard Winger from comments:

I’m very happy to say I was wrong. I am also extremely puzzled as to how this happened. The state sent me an Excel file showing how many registered voters there are in every precinct in eveery party and every political designation. It was so huge, I didn’t print it. I just took notes. Maybe something was wrong with my Excel program. Column J is for the Libertarian Party. When I opened it up the day I got it, it plainly showed 15 voters in column J. I so wish I had printed it out on paper. Now, when I open, it has 10,839. None of the other column totals have changed (in other words, none of the other parties now show anything different from my notes). So, please alter IPR’s title. And if anyone who is experienced with Excel can tell me how a program can do what this one seems to have done, let me know. richardwinger@yahoo.com.

In retrospect, I should have phoned the Mass. Sec. of State’s office when I first got, or perceived, the 15 voter figure, but I just assumed they would give me a hard time. The state did take away all the Working Families registrants when it lost its status as a political body. The Working Families Party tried to persuade Massachusetts to put them back, but the state wouldn’t do it. So I assumed the office was giving the Libertarians the same treatment it had given to the Working Families Party.

I meant to say, above, when Working Families lost its status as a party. That happened in 2008. Working Families had 5,534 registrants in Massachusetts in October 2008, but it lost its party status a month later and even though it re-applied as a political designation, it didn’t do that for several months after it had gone off the ballot, and the state wouldn’t restore its registrants. That is why it only has 26 registrants in Massachusetts now.

And in the corrected version of the story at Ballot Access News:

UPDATE: an earlier version of this post said that Massachusetts had converted the state’s registered Libertarians to independents. The earlier version was mistaken about that. Massachusetts had 10,839 Libertarians registrants as of December 31, 2011. When that figure is added into the national Libertarian total, the Libertarians don’t have as many registrants nationally as they had had in October 2010, but they only declined by 390 nationwide.

20 thoughts on “CORRECTION: Massachusetts DOES NOT Convert Registered Libertarian Voters to Independents

  1. George Phillies

    “It didn’t realize it was supposed to immediately reapply for status as a “political designation.” ”

    This report is somewhat peculiar, since the position of the Secretary of State has historically been that there is no way to get rid of “Political Designation” status.

    Furthermore, even if there were no such “Political Designation: you would be legally able to register “Libertarian”.

  2. George Phillies

    Assuredly, the change from Political Party to Political Designation status has happened several times: 1996, 2006, and 2010, and in the first two cases voter registrations were maintained, and the state Libertarian Association did absolutely nothing to cause registrations to be maintained.

    Mind you, if the report is true, the voter registration list now actually becomes useful, because it will contain only people who were motivated enough to write out the word “Libertarian” and who therefore may actually be activists.

    We may contrast this with the National Party’s effort to mail recruitment material to 50,000 registered Libertarian voters, which generated around 100 new members.

  3. George Phillies

    @3 Erik, I am amused to note that some years ago when the state organization discussed the inverse operation, namely disorganizing form the political designation level, the Secretary of State claimed that there was no way to do this.

    At the moment, the registration process is actually for the first time since Eli Israel and his crew of characters messed things up, generating an actual list of useful activists. This is a positive outcome.

    The reasonable speculation is that the Secretary of the Commonwealth did this to spite the state Association over the ongoing litigation, in which case he shot himself in the foot.

    Perhaps @4 would mail it to IPR to post as a document.

  4. 10839, not 15

    I have received from Winger a copy of his data.

    It shows *10 839* Libertarian enrollees, not the 15 Winger claims it shows.

    If anyone wants to see the message Winger forwarded me, I will be happy to send it along.

    If anyone has a message from our Secretary of State, claiming that we were supposed to reapply, I would be most interested in seeing it.
    Until then, I am going to believe that there was no basis for the bizarre claim “It didn’t realize it was supposed to immediately reapply for status as a “political designation.”

    We have been through this before in living memory. Repeatedly. That’s not how it worked here any of the other times.

  5. paulie Post author

    Appended to post above for anyone not scrolling up:

    UPDATES:

    1) George Phillies, from comments:

    Assuredly, the change from Political Party to Political Designation status has happened several times: 1996, 2006, and 2010, and in the first two cases voter registrations were maintained, and the state Libertarian Association did absolutely nothing to cause registrations to be maintained.

    2) Richard Winger, from comments:

    If anybody in Massachusetts wants to be 100% sure that my report is true, send me an e-mail to richardwinger@yahoo.com and I will forward you the electronic Massachusetts registration report that the Secretary of State?s office e-mailed to me less than a week ago.

    That report has been forwarded to me and I am attaching it here:. MA.enrollment_count_31DEC2011 (2)

    I am presuming that since this is information from the state government that there is no problem with posting it here. If there is a problem that I am unaware of, please let me know and I will take it down.

    It appears that it shows 10,839 registered Libertarians, not 15. I’m awaiting explanation from Mr. Winger and will update the post again or put up a new one.

    -paulie

  6. Richard Winger

    I’m very happy to say I was wrong. I am also extremely puzzled as to how this happened. The state sent me an Excel file showing how many registered voters there are in every precinct in eveery party and every political designation. It was so huge, I didn’t print it. I just took notes. Maybe something was wrong with my Excel program. Column J is for the Libertarian Party. When I opened it up the day I got it, it plainly showed 15 voters in column J. I so wish I had printed it out on paper. Now, when I open, it has 10,839. None of the other column totals have changed (in other words, none of the other parties now show anything different from my notes). So, please alter IPR’s title. And if anyone who is experienced with Excel can tell me how a program can do what this one seems to have done, let me know. richardwinger@yahoo.com.

    In retrospect, I should have phoned the Mass. Sec. of State’s office when I first got, or perceived, the 15 voter figure, but I just assumed they would give me a hard time. The state did take away all the Working Families registrants when it lost its status as a political body. The Working Families Party tried to persuade Massachusetts to put them back, but the state wouldn’t do it. So I assumed the office was giving the Libertarians the same treatment it had given to the Working Families Party.

  7. Richard Winger

    I meant to say, above, when Working Families lost its status as a party. That happened in 2008. Working Families had 5,534 registrants in Massachusetts in October 2008, but it lost its party status a month later and even though it re-applied as a political designation, it didn’t do that for several months after it had gone off the ballot, and the state wouldn’t restore its registrants. That is why it only has 26 registrants in Massachusetts now.

  8. 10839, not 15

    @10

    Excel “recalculates”. Sometimes it is a bit eccentric in its calculations.

    With respect to “Working Families” I believe the answer is that “Political Designation” is a legal status independent from “Political Party, though it becomes invisible when you become a major party. LAMA had filed “Libertarian” as a “Political Designation” many years ago, so it already was a political designation each time we gained and lost political party status. Thus, the people were under the political designation and stayed there. “Working Families” lost Party Status, and was not a Designation at that time, so it lost its voters.

  9. Richard Winger

    #13, California Constitution once made it illegal for political parties to endorse candidates in non-partisan elections, but that was struck down as a violation of free speech in California Democratic Party v Lungren, 919 F Supp 1397 (1996). The state didn’t appeal.

  10. ralph swanson

    Another story here might be how confusing this is becoming. If I read this right, the Libs have gone up on the whole?

  11. paulie Post author

    No, but they lost less than any of the other parties. \

    Here’s how the story reads at BAN now:

    All Nationally-Organized Parties Have Fewer Registrations Now than in October 2010
    February 5th, 2012
    Because most states purge their voter registration rolls between elections, the United States has fewer registered voters now than in October 2010. There are fewer Democrats now, fewer Republicans now, fewer independent voters now, and fewer voters in each nationally-organized minor party now. The nationally-organized parties that existed in 2010 and that have as many as 500 registrants in the nation are the Libertarian, Green, Constitution, Working Families, Reform, Socialist, and Socialist Workers Parties, in that order.

    Americans Elect did not exist in 2010, and now has 3,285 registrants, so it is the only nationally-organized party that now has more registrants than in 2010.

    UPDATE: an earlier version of this post said that Massachusetts had converted the state’s registered Libertarians to independents. The earlier version was mistaken about that. Massachusetts had 10,839 Libertarians registrants as of December 31, 2011. When that figure is added into the national Libertarian total, the Libertarians don’t have as many registrants nationally as they had had in October 2010, but they only declined by 390 nationwide.

  12. paulie Post author

    BTW, does anyone know why registered Libertarians in Mass went up from 12.x thousand in 2008, to 15.x in 2010 and 10.x in 2011/12? Any explanation for the rise and fall?

  13. George Phillies

    @17 It has to do with political party vs. political designation status. With the former ‘Libertarian’ appears on the registration form, and people check it by accident. With the latter, people have to write the word “Libertarian” and are actually interested in the party.

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