Bill O’Reilly is registered to vote as a member of the “Independence” Party

Bill O’Reilly has been making all of the wrong headlines for himself recently, following a Mother Jones report showing that his stories about seeing combat in the Falkland Islands, Buenos Aires and El Salvador were exaggerated at best and pure fiction at worst.

Since the report’s release, O’Reilly has spent his time viciously attacking both its authors and anyone who dares believe that he could have possibly made anything up about his life. Ever. That includes seven former CBS employees who have since come forward to corroborate Mother Jones’s claims, all disputing O’Reilly’s accounts of his time in combat zones.

Good for him. Who are we to question Papa Bear? After all, Bill O’Reilly isn’t just an honest newsman; he is the very definition of enlightened American citizenship. He cuts through all of the partisan baloney with his no-spin zones and clear-headed thinking on the major political issues of the day. And if that isn’t clear enough from what he says on his show, he’s happy to tell anyone who asks that he’s a registered independent.

Except he isn’t. At least not officially. A search on the New York State Board of Elections voter registry shows that he is currently registered as a member of the Independence Party of New York, not as unaffiliated or independent:

O'Reilly's street address and polling place have been redacted

O’Reilly’s street address and polling place have been redacted

In case that screenshot is too grainy, here’s a blown-up version of the important part:

Independence Party

Bill O’Reilly’s voter registration has come under scrutiny before. Fifteen years ago, in 2000, the New York Daily News reported that, despite repeated claims that he was a “registered independent,” O’Reilly had in fact been registered as a Republican since 1994. O’Reilly claimed that there wasn’t an option to register as an independent, but voter registration forms at the time had (and they still have) the option: “I do not wish to enroll in a party.”

And when you check that box, your voter registration shows up like this in the Board of Elections’s database:

Not enrolled in a party

Following the New York Daily News story, O’Reilly updated his registration, saying he did so to reflect his independent status. But when he did so, it appears that O’Reilly checked the wrong box. Again. This time it looks like an honest mistake, but it’s definitely an odd one given that he was re-registering specifically to opt-out of a political party. You’d think he would have payed closer attention to which boxes meant what on the second try, but apparently not.

So, what do we know about this political party that Bill O’Reilly has accidentally been a member of for fifteen years, and how does he stack up with its core principles?

Not well. The Independence Party of New York’s website includes its legislative agenda for 2014. It comes with five major action items:

  • Medical Marijuana: The Independence Party’s current top priority is supporting Senate Bill 4406, which would legalize medical marijuana in the state. That probably doesn’t sit well with O’Reilly, who has called medical marijuana a “ruse” to make weed available to anyone who wants it.
  • Common Core: The Independence Party is deeply disturbed about the Common Core, asking the State of New York to issue a three year moratorium on the implementation of the curriculum. Again, that doesn’t seem too high on Bill O’Reilly’s priorities list. The Fox anchor was skeptical of the dangers of the Common Core when Glenn Beck came on his show to promote his new conspiracy theory-laden book on the subject, asking the radio personality why Jeb Bush and Chris Christie would have endorsed the program if it were really so bad.
  • Raising the Age of Adult Prosecution: New York is one of only two states in the country that automatically arrests and prosecutes 16 year-olds as adults, and the Independence Party is (rightly) looking to change that. I couldn’t find Bill O’Reilly going on the record with respect to this issue, but he’s come down pretty hard on law-and-order issues before. In a 2001 op-ed for World Net Daily, shortly after he registered for the Independence Party, O’Reilly argued that we should replace the death penalty with gulag-style prison camps for “killers, rapists, drug kingpins and terrorists.” So, tea leaf-readers, have fun figuring out where he’d come down on raising the prosecution age.
  • The DREAM Act: The Independence Party is in full support of allowing children of undocumented workers to participate in New York’s college Tuition Assistance Program. Coincidentally, Bill O’Reilly has expressed support for creating a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who came to America as children, so he’s actually toeing the party line on this one.

And, finally:

  • Voter Registration Form Reform: Bill O’Reilly almost certainly didn’t mean to register with the Independence Party, which is fine because they don’t want him. The Independence Party is absolutely done with people, like O’Reilly, who want to register as independents, but check the wrong box and mistakenly wind up on their rolls. To remedy this, they propose moving the “I do not wish to enroll in a party” box from the bottom to the top of the party list, thereby making it clearer that an Independence affiliation is still an affiliation.

In any case, while this particular round of “Bill O’Reilly has problems with his voter registration” isn’t as bad as the last one, when he was pretty clearly lying about registering as an independent, O’Reilly may want to phone a friend the next time he updates his registration.

If the last two tries are any indication, he’ll need all the help he can get.


Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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