You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.


  • ePAPER

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks


Welcome to

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on

Cerabino: Florida voter finally gets to make her declaration of independence

When Karen Milstein moved to Florida from Virginia she considered herself an independent voter.

“I didn’t want to have all this junk coming in the mail from the Republicans and Democrats,” she said. “I wanted to vote with my brain.”

And so for the past 20 years, this 62-year-old romance novelist in suburban West Palm Beach had imagined that she had no party affiliation.

Until she recently got a letter in the mail. It said that her party, The Independent Party of Florida, had been dissolved.

“How can you be an independent and also belong to a political party?” she asked me. “Is this some kind of Florida thing?”

Milstein, I suspect, is one of many Floridians who have recently learned that while imagining themselves as being free of party labels, they have actually belonged to the third largest political party in Florida.

“And now, they’re telling me I can join the Independence Party of Florida,” she said.

Yes, there is an Independence Party of Florida, which should not be confused with the recently disbanded Independent Party of Florida.

It’s a little bit like that scene from Monty Python’s Life of Brian, when the members of the People’s Front of Judea are irked to be misidentified as members of the Judean People’s Front.

The Independent Florida of Party is an outgrowth of businessman H. Ross Perot’s run for president in 1992. The Independence Party of Florida is something eight people in the Tampa area started seven years later.

Both parties have grown over the years. But maybe, to some extent, by accident.

When Milstein and others like her registered to vote, they didn’t realize that saying they were independents could be taken different ways. And some ended up being put down as a party member of the Independent Party of Florida, rather than somebody who is independent with a lower case “i,” and of no party affiliation.

And so now there are more than 262,000 registered members of the Independent Party of Florida. Or, at least, there were.

In February, the Florida Election Commission revoked its party status because — now, get this — the Independent Party of Florida’s last audit was done by an accountant, not a certified public accountant, as required.

That’s another one of those Florida things, Mrs. Milstein.

And so now, supervisors of elections in all of Florida’s 67 counties have been instructed to mail notifications to all the registered members of the Independent Party of Florida to inform them that the party some of them didn’t even know they belonged to is no longer valid.

As you might imagine, this isn’t sitting well with the Independent Party of Florida, which sees its dismantling on a technicality as nothing more than a dirty trick to stem to tide of voters who don’t want to be associated with the two main political parties.

“This is another form of voter suppression,” wrote Ernie Bach, the state chairman of the Independent Party of Florida. “All voters should be aware that we already have a slate of viable candidates who will be filing to run as Independents in the 2018 elections on all levels; local state and national, which will offer our independent voters a third and meaningful choice.”

The party has applied for a restoration of its status.

If successful, it will be interesting to see how many former party members will be like Milstein, happy to be reassigned as an NPA — No Party Affiliation — voter.

“The elections office gave me a list of about eight other parties I can join,” Milstein said. “But I’m an independent. I don’t want to join any of them.”

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Local

Cerabino: There’s sanctuary in ruling for West Palm Beach
Cerabino: There’s sanctuary in ruling for West Palm Beach

It’s interesting to contrast how two South Florida communities reacted to the threat of losing federal dollars over their handling of undocumented residents. When President Donald Trump signed an executive order in January that called for stripping federal funding to any so-called “sanctuary city,” Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez...
Palm Beach socialite’s daughter jailed, accused of stealing from her
Palm Beach socialite’s daughter jailed, accused of stealing from her

When a judge found Palm Beach socialite Mary Montgomery incapacitated because of dementia last year, an inventory of her Addison Mizner-designed split-level mansion commenced. Among the riches documented by the guardian and the trustees: a Rolls-Royce, a Bentley, $5.54 million in jewelry, $1.34 million in silverware and about $81,000 worth of fine...
JUST IN: Lake Worth man’s death in January was homicide, PBSO says
JUST IN: Lake Worth man’s death in January was homicide, PBSO says

The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office on Thursday released the first information about a January murder. The sheriff’s office previously said a man was shot with an unknown condition. Scott R. Osterman, 49, was fatally shot with a handgun Jan. 8, a heavily redacted report shows. Because the incident remains under investigation, only half...
IN BOYNTON: James Patterson says he’s writing book on Aaron Hernandez
IN BOYNTON: James Patterson says he’s writing book on Aaron Hernandez

Best-selling author James Patterson is writing a book about Aaron Hernandez, the former NFL and University of Florida standout who authorities say this month committed suicide while serving time in prison for murder. Patterson made the announcement Wednesday while visiting Congress Middle School in Boynton Beach. He did not say what the title will...
Florida elementary school janitor allegedly sexted 15-year-old boy
Florida elementary school janitor allegedly sexted 15-year-old boy

A Florida elementary school janitor has been suspended after allegedly exchanging explicit photos and texts with a 15-year-old boy, deputies said.  Matthew Benedict, 29, of Lake County reportedly gave the teen a cellphone and sexted him, WESH reported.  Even though Benedict worked in the school district, detectives said, that’s...
More Stories