A non-partisan organization, Americans Elect, is looking to crack the foundation the nation’s two-party political system by holding a national online primary to nominate a ideologically balanced U.S. presidential ticket that will appear on the actual November ballot. All registered voters can use their computers or Internet-capable mobile devices to serve as delegates in the May caucuses and June online convention.
A national non-profit and non-partisan organization,
Americans Elect, is well on its way to ballot
access in all 50 states and plans to hold an
online presidential nominating process starting
The goal: a grassroots, Net-driven effort to
nominate an ideologically-balanced ticket for
the November presidential election. The Americans
Elect presidential candidate must pick a running
mate from a different party. The candidates
will appear on ballots as the Americans Elect
ticket — right along with Democratic candidate
President Barack Obama and the Republican candidate,
presumed to be former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt
Americans Elect hopes to nominate a candidate
who can break through traditional party politics
and represent millions of Americans the organization
believes are being disenfranchised by a process
led by extremes in the Democratic and Republican
“We’re not trying to become another party,”
said Dagny Leonard, deputy press secretary for
In a phone interview, Leonard said Americans
Elect is attempting to build a platform for
“The whole process is really up to the delegates,”
All registered voters can participate in the
online nominating caucuses in May and the convention
Currently, registered voters from across the
country can log on to americanselect.org and
sign up as delegates. So far, Leonard said,
about 400,000 people have done this. Delegates
then can list their candidate preferences and
even get involved in “drafting” candidates.
Additionally, delegates can rank their issue
priorities and determine the candidates with
whom they best match.
The first caucus starts at 11 p.m. on Monday,
May 7 and runs for 24 hours. Delegates vote
for their top candidate. There are two more
caucuses, 11 p.m. on May 14, and 11 p.m. on
May 21. The top six candidates will advance
to the Americans Elect National Primary — which
runs from 11 p.m. on Monday, June 11 to 11 p.m.
on June 12.
All voting takes place online.
Once the top six candidates make it out of the
online caucuses they have to select a running
mate of a different party, and one who brings
ideological balance, Leonard said.
Candidates have to announce a willingness to
participate in the Americans Elect process.
Americans Elect won’t place a drafted candidate
with no intention of running on the ballot.
Safeguards are in place to verify identities
of voters and make certain people don’t corrupt
the system by voting multiple times.
Leonard said Americans Elect is starting in
2012 with a process aimed only at the presidential
contest. But the hope is the project is a success,
and the direct-democracy tool filters down to
state legislative races and even local school
“I can’t predict the future, but I do think
there are enough people fed up with the way
things are going,” Leonard said.
One challenge to the project, however, is that
in a close race between Obama and Romney, Americans
Elect could serve as a spoiler by peeling just
enough votes away from one candidate to deliver
the election for the other.
“We get that from both sides,” Leonard said.
She added, “I personally don’t think there’s
much left to spoil.”
Most observers view any spoiler potential as
remote. But, nonetheless, it looms.
As it stands, the runaway leader with support
as an Americans Elect drafted candidate is Texas
Republican Congressman Ron Paul. Liberal U.S.
Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont also polls strongly
in the “draft” category as does former Republican
Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman and New York City Mayor
Michael Bloomberg. None of these candidates
has declared and won’t be eligible for voting
unless they do. It’s highly unlikely any political
A-listers like Bloomberg will diminish their
reputations and longer-term prospects by getting
drawn into a race they themselves don’t define
Of the declared candidates, former Salt Lake
City Mayor Rocky Anderson and Buddy Roemer,
the former governor of Louisiana, are leading
in the current polling.
Leonard said there is a vetting process to block
candidacies from entertainers like Stephen Colbert
and Jon Stewart of Comedy Central who figure
prominently in the recruiting efforts.
“I don’t think that’s going to be a problem,”
Leonard said. CV
Douglas Burns is a fourth-generation Iowa
newspaperman who writes for The Carroll Daily
Times Herald and offers columns for Cityview.