Independent voters see ranks grow

New Mesa County registration numbers show that a growing number of voters is registered independent.

In the Western Slope, unaffiliated voters saw a gain of more than 8%, while Republicans grew by more than 6% and Democrats lost about 1%.

Mesa County Democrats Co-Chair Karl Castleton says the shift may be due to dissatisfaction with Washington partisanship.

"I think they don't want to be seen as part of that politic, of that whole culture of one seeing the other as completely wrong,” said Castleton.

Ruth Ehlers, the chair of the Mesa County Republican Party, said she’s not sure which party is losing voters to the independent cause.

“I think probably from both,” Ehlers said. “I think there’s a tremendous amount of discontent with both parties."

Many young people – like college students – are leaning more toward the political middle. Even student Jeff Sederlin, who registered as a Republican, said his views do not always align with the GOP.

“They’re not all the way extreme to one side,” Sederlin said, “but some things I feel more strongly about than others.”

Instead of marking every ballot box labeled “Republican” or “Democrat,” independent Jordan Lister said he considers every point and candidate separately.

“I like to look at their past voting record and just take them on a case by case basis of what they said, and sometimes that results in not voting if I don't like either candidate," Lister said.

However, according to Ehlers, registering as an independent has some downsides. Voters not affiliated with a party cannot participate in either caucuses or primaries.

And if you became an independent to avoid those party phone calls, think again.

“Most interesting is the unaffiliated voters get contacted the most by campaigns,” said Castleman.


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