Recent reports show the percentage of voters registering with “No Party Affiliation” or NPA, has increased to some 27 percent or 3.2 million of Florida’s 12 million voters since 1995. The percentage of registered Democrats also declined from 47 to 38 percent, and Republicans from 41 to 35 percent.
The trend, says local officials, remains particularly relevant to newly naturalized immigrants in South Florida
“There has definitely been a trend,” says Florida Representative Hazelle Rogers, citing results from the Broward Supervisor of Elections showing over 2,000 newly registered NPA voters in immigrant-rich Lauderdale Lakes.
Curtis Forbes, an employee at a Perrine driver’s license office, believes this trend is because “several new citizens are reluctant to align with a political party when they register.”
“My privacy would be compromised were I to disclose my party affiliation when I register to vote,” says 23-year-old Courtney Spares. “That is my personal business. In Jamaica where I am from people keep their party affiliation private.”
“But this isn’t the Caribbean,” says Democratic Party field organizer Duane Livermore. “New voters should be aware it’s the norm to register Democrat or Republican. Even if you’re affiliated to a party, you can vote for any candidate during elections. But those registered NPA may not see their favorite candidates on the general election ballot, because they cannot vote in Florida’s closed primaries as NPAs.”
Representative Rogers said “more education is needed to make new voters aware of Florida’s election process.”
However, Miami political science professor, Dudley Stanford thinks the problem is that immigrant voters – particularly the younger generation – are not inspired by either of the major political parties.
Miramar’s Todd Miller, 23, said he only registered “because I was advised to when I was sworn in as a citizen. However, neither of the parties inspired me. I prefer being an NPA. If I decide to vote I will disclose my party affiliation on Election Day.”
Stanford said “NPA voters make Florida’s elections very interesting as they comprise a powerful voting bloc. NPA or independent voters are Florida’s famous, unpredictable voters that can swing presidential election either way.”