State Sen. Umberg Introduces Legislation on Party Names

State Sen. Tom Umberg, D-Garden Grove, announced Friday that he has proposed a bill that would prohibit political parties from using "independent," "decline to state," "no party preference" or other similar terms.

The move is meant to reduce confusion among voters who might think they are registering without a party affiliation, but are actually registering with a party that has a name that implies it is independent or unaffiliated with Democrats or Republicans.

Umberg pointed to the American Independent Party as an example.

The party has more than 500,000 registered members, which Umberg's office argued is because it is usually among the top on registration lists which are in alphabetical order and because it contains the term "independent" in it.

Umberg said a Los Angeles Times poll showed that fewer than 4 percent of the party's registered members could identify their own registration as a member of the party and more than half of the party's members wished to leave it once they were made aware of the party's platform.

A message left with the AIP was not immediately returned.

"As representatives of California residents and voters, we have an obligation to correct any wording on a state-issued document that is designed to be an impediment to our democratic system," Umberg said.

"It is clear that many individuals who truly wish to be outside a political party preference are misguided by the name of certain parties when they register. This bill is simply meant to honor their intent."

Umberg noted that state law prohibits new parties from using names that are too similar to existing parties.

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