Terms Glossary

Good Party's Terms Glossary is a list of definitions of words from the political and elections world. These terms are from an independent's perspective with an eye toward reform. If you have a suggestion for a new definition, send it to ask@goodparty.org.

Unenrolled Candidate

An unenrolled candidate, also known as an independent candidate, is someone who is not affiliated with any political party and runs for office without the support of the major parties. They are not bound by the same rules or conventions as candidates from the major parties and are free to campaign and govern according to their own beliefs and principles.

In the United States, unenrolled candidates face a number of obstacles, including lack of access to party resources and voter base, difficulty in gaining media coverage, and often having to collect petitions to get on the ballot. However, in recent years, there has been a growing number of unenrolled candidates running for office, and some have been successful in winning elections.

For example, in Maine, two unenrolled governors were elected, James Longley in 1974 and Angus King in 1994 and 2018. In Vermont, Bernie Sanders was elected as an unenrolled candidate to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1990 and later to the U.S. Senate in 2006 and 2012.

Unenrolled candidates offer voters an alternative to the traditional two-party system and can bring fresh ideas and perspectives to government. They are not beholden to party bosses or special interests and can govern based on the needs of their constituents. They also can increase voter turnout and competition in the election, making it more likely that the elected official will have a mandate from the voters.

In summary, unenrolled candidates, also known as independent candidates, are those who are not affiliated with any political party and runs for office without the support of the major parties. They face obstacles but some have been successful in winning elections, offering an alternative to traditional two-party system, bringing fresh ideas and perspectives to government, and increasing voter turnout and competition. They are not beholden to party bosses or special interests and can govern based on the needs of their constituents.