Americans Elect, the online presidential nominating organization, has made it onto the ballot in Colorado, easily hitting the 10,000 resident signatures it needed. Americans Elect is not a political party. It’s a group that has set up a new way to nominate candidates.
Taking a page from American Idol, the group ostensibly seeks to strip away the influence of the entrenched interests that shape Republican and Democratic presidential platforms and presidential tickets. Bypassing the agendas established by labor unions and chambers of commerce, for example, people will surf to the Americans Elect website and directly nominate the candidates the organization is working to make sure appear on ballots in all 50 states.
Political analysts understandably have viewed the organization with skepticism.
Although Americans Elect positions itself as motivated to address a system broken in part through corruption, it doesn’t have to reveal its funders and so far it is keeping the identities of some of them secret.
Obvious questions linger:
Is Americans Elect really just a spoiler organization, bankrolled by either Democrats or Republicans in order to establish a third-party candidate who will siphon off votes from a mainstream opponent?
Is Americans Elect less about political innovation than about money-making? Is it a gimmick?
Does handing over the power to nominate candidates directly to an angry disillusioned public risk aiding and abetting a spectacular nationwide digital-era experiment in “throw the bums out” anti-voting– an experiment that could end ludicrously in a Kardashian administration?
On that last score, at least, the American Elect website attempts to offer assurances:
Americans Elect candidates will be certified by an independent committee and must meet a set of standard qualification criteria such as background checks. But more importantly, the Americans Elect ticket will be chosen by millions of registered voters—Democrat, Republican and independent. We believe that when Americans participate directly in the nominating process, we will have a positive debate that leads to a qualified, representative choice.
CEO Elliot Ackerman has said his group is only hoping to add a third candidate to the 2012 election ballot. He couldn’t get more than a few words in to explain the organization’s aims on MSNBC.
He got more time to elaborate on Comedy Central: