by GwenMandell on November 7, 2012

Welcome to the 2017 National Conference of Independents Blog!  

I’m looking forward to seeing all of you Saturday, March 18 in New York City. Register Today!

The conference will be held at the CUNY Graduate Center midtown Manhattan.  The conference is free. All you have to do is register online and get to New York.

If you’re coming to the conference or you’ve attended a conference in the past, send me your testimonials.  Enjoy reading the ones posted below. Consider this blog a stopping place where you can share your thoughts about the upcoming conference, ask questions, or discuss our ongoing work to create a new political infrastructure and change political culture.

Letter of invitation from IndependentVoting.org President Jackie Salit about the conference: 

Dear Friends:

Just a week after this very turbulent national election, I delivered a keynote at the Arizona State University (ASU) annual Morrison Institute “State of our State” conference.  I closed my remarks about independent voters and the independent movement by reading a few verses from a Leonard Cohen song, “Anthem.”

Cohen, the poet/singer/songwriter who died the day before the election, penned this haunting and to me, very relevant-refrain:
Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in
Independents, I told the audience, are one of the cracks in everything.  And, I explained, our movement wants to bring in the light.  This mission — and how to pursue it — is the subject of our bi-annual National Conference of Independents to be held on March 18, 2017 in New York City.  I sincerely hope you will join me there.

How do we do that?  How do we bring light to what many feel are dark times in America and the world?  What is the particular role of independents — now 43 percent of the country — in sorting out and shaping the political re-alignments that are now underway?  What kinds of coalitions can now be built within the independent and reform movements, and with fellow Americans who are Democrats or Republicans?  And, how do we understand the voters’ choices this year?  Was the shift of independent voters from supporting Barack Obama in 2008 to backing Donald Trump in 2016 an ideological shift from left to right?  Or, was it part of a larger change in which left/right/Democrat/Republican categories now mean less than the vertical divide between the haves and the have-nots?  These are important questions for independents to engage.

In a little-noticed pre-election poll designed by the feisty Fox News analyst Pat Caddell, he discovered that 67 percent of Americans believe that the most significant divide we face as a country is not Democrat vs. Republican but the American people vs. the elites.  The parties may be trying to define the divide on their terms, but it is getting harder to make that stick.  Independents are not at the ideological “center.”  But we are at the vortex of this changing paradigm.

 Where do democracy issues like open primaries, election administration and the electoral college — to name a few — fit into this shift?  Do third parties and independent candidates provide the tools America needs to re-direct the country?  Should we seek out campaigns that are based on winning elections or do we need a strategy for the development of the political culture?  Can the two be combined?

The major parties are now reeling from major league conflicts within their respective camps.  As Donald Trump assembles a government, as the Democrats’ liberal coalition regroups after its shattering loss, the fault lines inside those parties are more visible than ever.  How should independents respond to and organize off of these conflicts?  Where do the political and social interests of African Americans, Latinos and other communities of color lie in the post-Obama era?  These questions, and others, will shape the agenda for our National Conference on March 18th.

Historically, our national conferences have provided a context for independent activists to connect with one another.  We have developed tactics and strategies for transferring power from the establishment — most especially the parties — to the people. We have looked at ways to grow our movement and train our leaders. We have educated ourselves about the state of our movement.

We will do all of that and more in March.  But, this upcoming conference takes place in the midst of more political uncertainty and more political opportunity than we’ve had since the independent voter rebellions of the 1990’s.  I hope you will join me in these important political conversations.
Salit signature

Jacqueline Salit
President, IndependentVoting.org



Send me your thoughts and testimonials to gmandell@independentvoting.org and register for the conference today!

Independently Yours,

Gwen Mandell
Director of National Outreach


Dominique Edwards

by GwenMandell on February 16, 2017

Domonique Edwards, student and activist, UNC-Greensboro and North Carolina Independents, is coming to the conference with a group of student activists from UNC-Greensboro
“I am coming to the conference to participate in conversations around reforming the current political structure, specifically to challenge the power of the two main parties. I want to know more about the role that I can play in changing the distribution of power in this nation.”


Getting Ready: Message from Al Bell, Peoria, AZ

by GwenMandell on February 14, 2017


AZ.Al Bell

This will be my first IndependentVoting.org conference. As Americans and as Independents, we now face unprecedented challenges—and opportunities. So, I decided to do a little preparing, rather than just showing up. I invite you to consider the idea, too.

It involves mainly “priming” my brain to prompt me to listen actively and take away insights that I can use to stimulate others to join in our cause. That’s the intent. The tool is Jackie Salit’s book, Independents Rising.

I read this intriguing book when it first came out and posted an Amazon review. When I stumbled on that review recently, I decided to follow my own advice: read the book—again. I wanted a refresher on how we got to this point in our movement. Only a few pages into this “second time around,” I am finding ideas that will make me a better listener at the conference and ambassador for our cause afterward. Jackie’s lively prose reminds me—again—who Independents are. It’s a simple foundation for the conference. Check it out. I think you’ll find it rewarding.

In a week or so, I’ll be able to let you know what my “takeaways” are after finishing the book. I’d like to hear what yours are, too—on March 18!


Juli Dominguez, Independent Voices of Indiana

by GwenMandell on February 14, 2017




I am independent because the issues grab my attention, ignite my passion and earn my vote. Although I have never been one that likes being labeled and I prefer to think for myself, I enjoy working with others. Therefore, I am super exited about the opportunity to build Independent Voices of Indiana. Now, more than ever, it is time for independents to have a seat at democracy’s table and to let their collective voices be heard. I look forward to attending the upcoming conference in New York City so that I can connect with other independents and I can learn how to be an effective leader in my community.


FL.Hough4Steve Hough of Florida: Why I’m attending the National Conference of Independents (Register for the conference at http://conferenceofindependents.org/register)):

“Having been tangentially involved in an effort to place an initiative on the 2012 Florida ballot to end closed primaries, I was taken aback upon learning how difficult it was to get an initiative on our ballot. My experience had shown that the majority of people I spoke with (whether Democrat, Republican, or independent) supported the concept of open primaries, yet our efforts failed. Since then, others have tried and failed again, but there is always hope for the future.”

“From experience, and through information disseminated on the IndependentVoting.org web site, I learned to what lengths the two major parties would go in order to block attempts to open up the primaries. Over the last couple of years, other states have had greater success than we have had here in Florida, and I look forward to meeting others from across the country dedicated to exposing the tactics employed by partisans in order to dampen the influence of independents and to promoting electoral reform.”


Malcolm Burn: Why I’m Attending the Conference

by bobconroy on January 11, 2017

I  am eager to attend this year’s National Conference of Independents after a long,
contentious and often challenging election year during which many past assumptions about the electoral process were challenged. During my time campaigning for Bernie  Sanders,  it was amazing to see how energized young and old people  alike became regarding  enacting  20161005_awards_066
fundamental changes to our electoral  system,  starting with issues such as having open primaries in all 50 states as well as creating easier, more flexible voter registration rules.
What became blindingly obvious to us was how the system is tilted in favor of the elites and party insiders and rarely listens to the true voices of voters, often with disastrous consequences.  Party loyalty is fast becoming a thing of the past as is the corruption  and bigotry which surrounds it. The election of Donald J. Trump may seem like the “coming of the end”-times for some, but to me it signals a galvanizing new era for activism and change.
The doors of political perception have been smashed wide open and there is no going back!!
I invite you to join me for this year’s conference.
Malcolm Burn


13054974_10154117854987290_4832410636324809491_o“After attending my first biennial National Conference of Independents in NYC in 2015, I’ve been looking forward to returning in 2017! I’m passionate about electoral reform and other systemic reforms that will help us shift – in thoughtful, productive ways – the balance of power from the parties and the powers that be, to the people. I’d love to see us get out of traditional, ideological, partisan, political ways of thinking, and create a system that gives everyone a meaningful voice and allows us to solve pressing issues in new, collaborative and better ways.
The Conference is an invaluable opportunity to interact with activists from across the country who share this passion. Though we all come from diverse backgrounds and experiences, I feel invigorated, and completely at ease and at home with this group of people. The conference is well planned, well organized, and well executed – definitely worthwhile. Now is our time to take the next step in helping a restless, concerned, alienated, divided America channel its energy in positive, unifying ways.” (Register here: http://conferenceofindependents.org)

–Tiani X. Coleman, President, New Hampshire Independent Voters (pictured left with Gwen Mandell, Jessica Lubien)


Here are statements from 4 students at UNC-Greensboro who will be attending the National Conference of Independents:NC - Adreanna Carter

My name is Adreanna. I am a student at the University of North Carolina studying Human Development, African American Studies, the African Diaspora, & Business. I chose to get involved with independent politics due to the lack of representation in this country of people that look like me. I feel that at minimal, a government that not only claims to serve a free people, but claims to be a democracy, should consist of representatives that represent not solely the elite minority, but all citizens.
Adreanna Carter

Domonique.EdwardsI am attending the conference because I see it being a growthful and developmental experience. This is a fine opportunity for me to meet people from around the country who share a similar passion to engage in a creative approach at making an adjustment in the structure of our political system. I predict there will be a foundation for influential connections to be shaped, and I look forward to what can be created as a result of working with other people.

Dominique Edwards


I’m going because the queer community can’t simply rely on Democrats to create change in a gridlocked congress which politicizes my basic rights.
Catie Byrne


NC.Emily.McNairI am extremely excited to be attending the National Conference of Independents in March. I am interested in meeting independents from all across the nation and working towards reforming the current political process.

Emily McNair


Representing Boston

by GwenMandell on February 24, 2015

MAVRAPjpgI’m going to the upcoming Conference of Independent voters because I need to surround myself with some real positive,  politically astute,  and determined people who are serious about changing the political arena in this country so that every U.S citizen can participate in the democratic process.  I’m proud to be an Independent.

Lowell Ward, Boston, Massachusetts




From Jarell Corley, independent activist from Orlando, Florida:

FL.JarellBeing an independent is a statement of conviction regarding our belief in the ideals of American Democracy. Washington is rampant with corruption, cronyism, and gridlock. These characteristics are the result of a two party system that places the needs of the Democrat and Republican parties above the needs of the American people. The upcoming National Conference of Independent Voters this March represents the momentum of a popular movement working towards replacing party controlled closed primaries with citizen-controlled open primaries. We want to take the power from the hands of the politicians and put it back into the hands of the people. If this story resonates with your innermost desires to fix American democracy, please register for this amazing conference.

To me, this conference represents the organization of a movement long overdue. This conference is an opportunity for Independents to learn that we actually share more in common than we have been lead to believe. Furthermore, I am looking forward to learning more about how I can get involved by organizing Independents in Florida. I am ecstatic to attend the upcoming conference and look forward to meeting activists from around the country as we come together one Saturday, for a common bond.”


Rick Robol, Ohio: Lets Make History Together

February 3, 2015

Rick Robol, is an attorney, leader of Independent Ohio and member of IndependentVoting.org’s national election reform committee: During the past three short years since retiring from military service and becoming involved in the Independents movement, I have witnessed Americans standing up for the rights of “We, the people” in unprecedented numbers. With over 45% now self-identifying as […]

Read the full article →