Massachusetts election officials believe thousands of people who thought they had registered to vote as an independent in fact registered as a member of the United Independent Party. The mixup could mean that those people are not able to vote for any candidates in the high-profile presidential primary on March 1. Anyone who mistakenly registered in the fledging party would have to change their party status by Wednesday, February 10. Secretary of the Commonwealth William F. Galvin said officials noticed an “inexplicable increase” in new members of the United Independent Party, or UIP, about a month ago. Many of these people were more casual voters, Galvin said, who were registering for the first time or online.
The UIP is a small political party that only came into existence in 2014, when party leader Evan Falchuk received 3 percent of the vote in the governor’s race. It does not currently have any candidates running for any offices. “When you see a party that’s not running candidates getting people to join it, I think it questions the reasoning why they would do it,” Galvin said.
In Massachusetts, voters who register as unenrolled—commonly referred to as “independents”—can choose whether they want to vote in the Democratic or Republican primary. But those enrolled in the United Independent Party can only vote on that party’s ballot.