Americans Elect Cancel Their Unique Campaign
Lack of Candidate Support Brings Automatic Cancellation of Americans Elect’s Pioneering Experiment
Thanks again to Wikinews, the free news source from the good people at Wikipedia, we were able to find this fascinating story about an issue that is rarely if ever discussed in large media organizations. Wikinews has very good articles on third parties in the US and this time about the non-profit Americans Elect that has made valiant efforts to help third party and independent candidates get on the national ballot. The problem it seems is that no candidate made it to the necessary threshold of pledged support.
Personally, being that people were able to pledge their support by the internet (as I did), I can’t figure out how an organization willing to spend $35 million dollars on their campaign failed to get enough people to ‘vote’. The process was simple, easy and it seemed to me like it got good press coverage. What failed? If anyone has any thoughts or ideas, please let us know by posting a comment below. Below is the article by Wikinews that was originally posted here. Take a look:
“Americans Elect, the non-profit organization that spent an estimated $35 million to attain ballot access in 29 states with hopes of nominating a bipartisan 2012 presidential ticket, decided in May to forego the 2012 presidential race. Via press release, the organization’s board announced that none of its candidates had met the minimum threshold, which required the accumulation of 10,000 pledged supporters for “experienced” candidates, and 50,000 supporters for other candidates, prior to the May 15 deadline. Though this decision drew criticism, the board claimed its actions were to maintain the integrity of the organization’s rules.
As a result, candidates that actively sought the organization’s nomination including former Louisiana governor Buddy Roemer, former Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson, activist Michealene Risley, and economics professor Laurence Kotlikoff were forced to reassess how to continue their campaigns.
Roemer, who led all candidates with 6,293 supporters, called the decision disappointing and commented that “Americans Elect’s procedure was ripe with difficulty related to access, validation and security.” Though he simultaneously sought the Reform Party’s nomination, Roemer ultimately decided that the party’s ballot access in four states was not enough, and suspended his campaign at the end of May.
Anderson, who finished second in supporters with 3,390, referred to the Americans Elect process as “discriminatory”, and announced his support for a movement within the organization, headed by delegate Andrew Evans, attempting to overturn the board’s decision. Meanwhile, Anderson removed all references to Americans Elect from the front page of his campaign website, and has focused his energies on the Justice Party, which he founded last year. It currently has ballot access in Mississippi and Utah. Anderson is also a candidate for the Peace and Freedom Party, which will appear on the California ballot.
Risley, who came in third with 2,351 supporters, argued that “people feel really used and manipulated” by Americans Elect. In a letter to the board, she wrote that the organization “will be stigmatized as the latest example of third party failure”, “Instead of being the prototype for high tech democracy”. Like Anderson, she supports the actions of Evans, and has even opened a petition for it on change.org. Since Risley is not competing for another party’s presidential nomination, this is now the crux of her campaign.
Kotlikoff, who finished fourth with 2,027 supporters, told Wikinews that he felt the Americans Elect board was more interested in attracting “big names” than focusing on the issues. He cited this as “the most disappointing aspect” of the decision, adding that “big names don’t necessarily equate to big ideas or good ideas for moving the country ahead. And all big names start small.” Like Roemer, Kotlikoff had decided to also seek the Reform Party nomination, and following the decision, choose to end his Reform Party bid and his presidential campaign as a whole. He opted instead to promote his “Purple Plan”, which combines elements of Republican and Democratic solutions to resolve political issues.
This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details. A statement that I found on the Americans Elect website confirmed the decision, here is an excerpt:
However, the rules, as developed in consultation with the Americans Elect Delegates, are clear. As of this week, no candidate achieved the national support threshold required to enter the Americans Elect Online Convention in June. The primary process for the Americans Elect nomination has come to an end.
Americans Elect, from the outset, has been a rules-based process, with the rules publicly available and open to debate by the Delegates. Our key priorities have been to: 1) honor the trust Americans Elect has built with the Delegates and American public; 2) require candidates to earn the nomination by building support among the Americans Elect Delegate community and American voters; and 3) create a basis for a solid future for the Americans Elect movement.
This decision honors these priorities.
It seems as though the organization felt it could not change its rules. It still doesn’t explain why candidates failed to get 10,000 internet pledges. That seems like a small number of people in a country of 320 million Americans. Perhaps an explanation will follow eventually. Take a look at this info about Americans Elect from their About Us page:
The goal of Americans Elect is to nominate a presidential ticket that answers directly to voters—not the political system. American voters are tired of politics as usual. They want leaders that will put their country before their party, and American interests before special interests. Leaders who will work together to develop fresh solutions to the serious challenges facing our country. We believe a secure, online nominating process will prove that America is ready for a competitive, nonpartisan ticket.
Wikipedia also has plenty of information about the group including this summary:
Americans Elect is a non-partisan non-profit organization in the United States which announced plans to hold the first national online presidential primary in U.S. history. Under the guidelines set forth in an appeal granted by the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruling against the Federal Election Commission (FEC), to remain outside FEC regulations of political committees, Americans Elect cannot accept funds from candidates or candidate committees, nor donate funds to them, nor can the organization advocate for or against any issue. The organization’s sole purpose was to obtain signatures to get on the ballot throughout the United States and to build the technology to process an online nomination.
Americans Elect announced that it would use an internet-based nominating process to field a ticket for the 2012 U.S. presidential election. Americans Elect describes its approach as nonpartisan. Their stated mission is to give the American people more power and more say in selecting presidential candidates, and providing more competition for the two major parties in November 2012. The organization is an outgrowth of an earlier movement, Unity08. The appeals court ruled that their predecessor organization, Unity08, is not a traditional political party.On May 15, 2012, CEO Kahlil Byrd announced that no candidate had reached the required level of national support to qualify for Americans Elect’s online convention, which, under the organization’s existing rules, would mean that the primary process would end without a candidate being selected. Byrd stated that Americans Elect would confer with its community and announce its next steps on May 17. At the time, the leading draft candidate was Ron Paul and the leading declared candidate was Buddy Roemer.
On May 17, 2012, unable to conduct a successful ballot, Americans Elect announced that “The primary process for the Americans Elect nomination has come to an end,” and it would instead focus on other election-related issues.