Nebraska: Without a single candidate to back, Americans Elect calls it quits in Nebraska | Omaha World-Herald

A little-known political party is being officially dissolved in Nebraska after failing to field even one candidate for public office. The Americans Elect Party, an effort launched to nominate presidential and vice presidential candidates in 2012 via an online convention, has informed the Nebraska secretary of state of its intention to dissolve. The party had about 275 members in Nebraska and was able, in 2012, to gather more than 9,000 signatures to qualify as an official party in the state. “Pick a President, Not a Party” was its slogan. But Americans Elect was unable to field a presidential slate through what it called “the first nonpartisan, national online presidential primary.” It also didn’t field any candidates for state offices in Nebraska.

Arizona: Green Party decertified for low numbers | Your West Valley

Arizonans may not get a chance to vote Green at the next election. Secretary of State Ken Bennett announced Wednesday that the number of people who selected to register as party members has dropped below the legal minimum. That leaves just four official parties: Republican, Democrat, Libertarian and Americans Elect. And that last party also is in trouble: Bennett said its registration also does not have sufficient registrants. But he said that, by virtue of being a new party in Arizona in 2011, is entitled to keep its ballot status through the 2014 election. Bennett said that state law requires a political party to have at least 5 percent of the total number of votes cast for governor or president at the most recent election.

Editorials: The I.R.S. Audits Are Condemned | New York Times

The Internal Revenue Service was absolutely correct to look into the abuse of the tax code by political organizations masquerading as “social welfare” groups over the last three years. The agency’s mistake — and it was a serious one — was focusing on groups with “Tea Party” in their name or those criticizing how the country is run. The I.R.S. should have used a neutral test to scrutinize every group seeking a tax exemption for “social welfare” activity — Democrat or Republican, conservative or liberal. Any group claiming tax-exempt status under Section 501(c)(4) of the internal revenue code can collect unlimited and undisclosed contributions, and many took in tens of millions. They are not supposed to spend the majority of their money on political activities, but the I.R.S. has rarely stopped the big ones from polluting the political system with unaccountable cash.

Oklahoma: Court Explains Why State Officers of Americans Elect Cannot Nominate Presidential Electors | Ballot Access News

Here is the short decision of the Oklahoma State Supreme Court in Lawhorn v Ziriax, 2012 OK 78. The decision implies, but not does explicitly say, that qualified parties in Oklahoma cannot nominate presidential electors unless their party holds a national convention. This is based on an incidental part of the election law that says presidential elector candidates must take an oath to support the candidate chosen at that party’s national convention. The irony of this interpretation is that even if Americans Elect had gone ahead with its original plans, it never planned to nominate a presidential or vice-presidential candidate at a national convention. Instead, the party expected to nominate via an on-line vote of any registered voter in the nation who wished to participate.

National: Buddy Roemer quits 2012 race |

Former Louisiana Gov. Buddy Roemer announced in a statement this morning that his quixotic independent campaign for president has come to an end. After failing to get access to the GOP primary debates last year, Roemer had decided to run as an independent and seek the Reform Party and Americans Elect nominations. Then, Americans Elect folded earlier this month, while Roemer continued to struggle to draw attention and interest to his campaign. In his statement, Roemer said he would create a new organization — details TBD — focused on his core issue of getting corporate and special interest money out of politics.

National: Americans Elect, promoting third-party candidates, faces internal rebellion | North County Times

Americans Elect – the innovative effort to jolt the political system with a third-party presidential candidate – is facing a democratic uprising of its own. A hastily organized contingent of Americans Elect activists is agitating to reverse the group’s decision last week to pull the plug on its nomination process after failing to generate sufficient interest in its candidates. Complaining that the group’s leadership hasn’t listened to the membership, the insurgents are pushing for Americans Elect to forge ahead. They don’t want the $35 million the group raised to get on the ballot in 29 states, including California, to go to waste. Involved in the effort is a Bay Area activist and filmmaker who ran for the Americans Elect nomination and came in third place, after former Louisiana Gov. Buddy Roemer and former Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson. Michealene Risley, a resident of Woodside in San Mateo County, said she was shocked when she heard – via press release – that Americans Elect was shutting down the nomination process. “People feel really used and manipulated,” said Risley, who ran on a platform of campaign finance reform.

Voting Blogs: Americans Elect Shows Voters May Be Ready For A Third Party Candidate, But Not A Third Party | TPM

“None of the above” will now be the only real option for voters frustrated with the tired choice between two parties now that Americans Elect, the well-funded nonpartisan organization that sought to nominate a legitimate third-party candidate for president in 2012, has folded. (Only Nevada has an actual “none of the above” option on the ballot.) It seems that the inability to create a movement in this vein was less about the sentiment — polls show Americans are aren’t fans of either party specifically or the political process generally — but it was lacking a key ingredient: leadership. “You can’t fill a political vacuum with a concept,” Lee Miringoff, assistant professor of political science and director the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion, told TPM. “The context is there, and the climate is right, but you need someone you can look at, a person, a candidate. Politics has become much more about personal qualities of individuals.”

National: Americans Elect Ends Online Primary After No Candidates Qualify To Run | ABC News

Americans Elect, the group that aimed to nominate a third presidential candidate through an online primary, ended its nomination process today after no prospective candidates met their minimum requirements. To run in its online primary a candidate had to get 10,000 “clicks” of support (1,000 in at least 10 states). Buddy Roemer was the closest to reaching that goal, but he got less than 6,300 “supporters. As of this week, no candidate achieved the national support threshold required to enter the Americans Elect Online Convention in June,” the group said in a statement. “The primary process for the Americans Elect nomination has come to an end.”

Editorials: The Third Party Fantasy |

“Third parties are like bees,” the intellectual historian Richard Hofstadter wrote in 1955. “Once they have stung, they die.” It’s an aphorism that aptly describes the anti-slavery and anti-immigrant parties of the mid-nineteenth century, the Populists and Progressives who ushered out the Gilded Age, as well as more recent third-party standard bearers, from George Wallace to Ross Perot. All of these movements and figures influenced American politics dramatically, before fading away and leaving the basic two-party duopoly intact. Of late, though, our potential third parties have been skipping the stinging part and going straight to the dying. This was true of Unity ’08, the much-ballyhooed attempt by former Democratic and Republican politicos to put up an independent alternative to Barack Obama and John McCain. Despite enjoying a wave of free publicity and boasting Sam Waterston of “Law & Order” as their spokesman, the Unityers never even came close to conjuring up a plausible candidate or platform, and their movement fizzled out amid attempts to entice an unwilling Michael Bloomberg into the lists.

Editorials: Americans Elect meets reality: third-party effort may be viable — just not now | Doyle McManus/

What happens if you start a political party and nobody comes? Six months ago, a newfangled third party burst onto the scene, full of hope and promise. It was called Americans Elect, and it sought to give voters a choice many said they were looking for: “centrist” candidates who could break the partisan gridlock paralyzing Washington. In its founders’ heads danced visions of middle-of-the-road candidates who could transform American politics: Hillary Rodham Clinton, Colin Powell, Michael Bloomberg, Jon Huntsman Jr. Wealthy donors invested millions in a fancy website for an Internet primary, signed up 420,000 would-be “delegates” and got on the ballot in 29 states. Newspaper columnists, including me, pondered what effect it might have on the election. Then the grand idea collided with reality.

National: Americans Don’t Elect to Use Americans Elect; 3rd Party Hits Wall? | TechPresident

As David Karpf wrote here ten days ago, the Americans Elect third-party experiment of 2012 looks like it has hit a dead end. No declared candidate is anywhere close to hitting the group’s requirement of earning 10,000 supporters across at least ten states, with at least 1,000 from each state. Former Louisiana governor Buddy Roemer the closest at just 5,840. He has less than 600 from California. As Jonathan Tilove points out in his story in the Times-Picayune, that means Roemer has more followers on Twitter than he has supporters who actually want him on AE’s presidential ballot line. Americans Elect had an ambitious plan to hold several rounds of online voting to winnow down what its leaders had hoped would be a competitive field of national candidates, and spent a reported $35 million circulating ballot petitions and building the organizational and online infrastructure to attract those candidates to its fold. It also attracted a fair amount of media coverage for its efforts, and encomiums from the likes of Thomas Friedman, John Avlon and Lawrence Lessig. But it never caught on, in part for the reasons I outlined almost a year ago: the lack of transparency about its finances made potential supporters distrustful (even spawning a watchdog blog called AETransparency), and the evident lack of public interest in its founders’ evident desire to find a “centrist” candidate. It’s possible that AE could have evolved differently, but that would have required that the vehicle be more genuinely controlled by its supporters, and that was an option that AE’s leaders clearly didn’t want to allow.

Editorials: Buddy Roemer, the Anti-Spoiler | Lawrence Lessig/The Atlantic

Two weeks ago, I wrote about the some of us who believe that the corrupting influence of money in American politics is the most important issue facing this nation, and that those who believe like us face a difficult dilemma: neither major party candidate is going to make this his issue for this campaign (indeed, the Obama campaign has just airbrushed his criticism of Citizens United from their webpage). So those of us who think this way must either accept that the issue will go dark for four years at least, or push a third-party candidate who will make this his central issue. I grabbed the second horn of that dilemma, arguing here that supporters of corruption reform should join Americans Elect and endorse a reform candidate. Two obvious choices lead the Americans Elect pack: Buddy Roemer, the four-time congressman and former governor of Louisiana, and David Walker, former Comptroller General of the United States. Both, I said, would be important reform candidates. Either could push corruption onto center stage.

Editorials: Indie Block – Americans Elect Near the End? | TIME

When Americans elect announced last July that it was pouring millions into placing a third-party presidential candidate on the ballot in all 50 states, the political world snapped to attention. Barack Obama’s longtime political adviser David Axelrod revealed his concern by publicly criticizing the group, while pundits gushed. “Watch out,” declared New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, who wrote that Americans Elect might change politics the way the iPod changed music. So far, Americans Elect is looking more like the Zune than the iPod. The group canceled a May 8 online caucus after no candidate met the necessary criterion of 1,000 backers in each of 10 states. More voting scheduled for later this month may also be scratched; it’s possible that Americans Elect won’t nominate a single candidate. That might say more about this well-intentioned effort’s shortcomings than it does about the durability of our two-party system. Founded by a group of political centrists, including former investment banker Peter Ackerman, Americans Elect had a promising plan: “break gridlock” and challenge “special interests” by helping elect a President beholden to no party. It invited people to join online, nominate candidates and ultimately select one through Internet voting. (To be eligible, candidates needed credentials meeting the group’s somewhat subjective criteria.)

Editorials: With Failures Rapidly Mounting, What Is Americans Elect’s End-Game? | AE Transparency

Having now been forced to cancel two primary ballots in a row due to the American electorate’sutter failure to respond to its spiel, Americans Elect may now be judged by any rational observer of the political scene to be an abject failure, and dead in the water. So what happens now? When Americans Elect’s predecessor, Unity08, failed similarly in 2008 (albeit much earlier in its existence, before a single ‘vote’ had been cast), that organization simply silently evaporated. That was really the only option available to Unity08’s leadership, because it was a worthless property: it was merely a thin web site, with no money behind it, and its founders had scattered to the four winds (many to their next failure, a ‘Draft Bloomberg’ initiative). So its operators simply abandoned it. Like a rusty old Buick up on cinder blocks in a weed-choked vacant lot, its twisted carcass had no significant scrap value.

National: Americans Elect scraps virtual caucus for lack of early candidate support | The Post and Courier

A group clearing the path for an independent White House bid canceled the first phase of its search for a bipartisan ticket Tuesday because declared and draft candidates aren’t mustering enough preliminary support. Americans Elect scrapped a virtual caucus that had been planned for next week. Another round of voting set for May 15 also is in jeopardy; a third is to be held on May 22. Candidates must meet a certain threshold of support to be eligible for the caucuses.

National: Third-party candidate for POTUS: Anyone? Walker? |

It’s the dream that won’t die: a plain-spoken, pure-hearted independent sweeps into the presidential race, talks straight with the American people and upends a broken process with a historic third-party campaign. Even at this late hour in the 2012 election, there’s still hope in elite circles that a fresh face will enter the field. Columnists continue to plead publicly for billionaire New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to run. Americans Elect, the group focused on obtaining ballot access for a so-far nameless independent candidate, begins to hold online caucuses this month to choose its nominee. The organization suffered a setback this week when it announced that it was stalling the start of its nominating process because no candidate had yet qualified for the competition. With no high-profile national politician apparently interested, nonpartisan idealists are turning toward David Walker, the former U.S. comptroller general and an advocate for broad fiscal reform. An austere technocrat, Walker has embraced the role of reluctant presidential contender and is the target of a draft movement seeking to place his name into nomination for the Americans Elect line.

Editorials: Americans Elect could prove a disastrous spoiler |

Are political centrists in America without a political home? Do we need a third-party presidential candidate to represent those socially progressive, fiscally austere voters who find our two parties too extreme? There’s no disputing that the Republican Party continues to move rightward at warp speed. Virtually every GOP elected official who’s been in office for more than a couple of years has had to repudiate previously mainstream Republican positions (such as creating a health insurance system with an individual mandate, an idea cooked up by a right-wing think tank) to keep today’s more rabid Republican activists from challenging them in party primaries or caucuses. Such longtime conservative stalwarts as Sens. Orrin Hatch of Utah and Richard Lugar of Indiana could lose their party’s renomination this spring from just such challenges. In this year’s GOP presidential primaries, each of the four candidates has attacked the others only from the right. Logic suggests that every GOP candidate cannot be to the right of every other GOP candidate, but if that’s what this year’s Republican base demands — and it is — then logic be damned: Everyone is running to the right.

Voting Blogs: Does Americans Elect Really Have 400,000+ Identity-Verified Delegates? | horizonr

Yesterday, Americans Elect was out with a press release that included the following claim (emphasis mine):

Americans Elect delegates, which now total more than 400,000 and counting, can draft and support a presidential candidate of their choice and nominate a presidential ticket that will appear on general election ballots nationwide this November.

Is this true? Does Americans Elect really have more than 400,000 identity-verified delegates? What evidence there is suggests that it possibly is not even close to that number. As I learned a couple of weeks ago, when I went to and completed the delegate verification process, becoming an Americans Elect delegate requires a bit of a commitment. It’s not as simple as just “signing up.”

National: Americans Elect Is Raising Money To Repay Its Millionaire Founders | Buzzfield

A deep-pocketed group hoping to field a third candidate in November has quietly shifted its fundraising focus earlier this month to serve a curious goal, a spokeswoman has acknowledged to BuzzFeed: All money raised by Americans Elect will, for the for-seeable future, be given to the millionaires who created it.

The group made the shift public in a cryptic statement on its website on March 2:

The Board of Directors voted unanimously on 20 February 2012 to ensure that no supporter would cover more than 20% of the Americans Elect budget. In the event that any one supporter exceeds that percentage, there are provisions created to expedite repayments to that supporter.

Americans Elect, whose leaders have said they expect to spend $40 million this year getting on the ballot in 50 states and building a sophisticated platform for a secure online primary, casts the move as one in service of its populist goal of having no donor give more than $10,000. But its immediate effect may make it extremely difficult for the group, which is heavily bankrolled by its chairman, financier and philanthropist Peter Ackerman, to raise any more money at all, and particularly the kind of small, grassroots donations it seeks on its website.

National: In New Board Ruling, An Early Sign of Financial Trouble at Americans Elect | horizonr

One of the most salient criticisms of Americans Elect — a group that bills itself as seeking to “open up the political process” and “change politics as usual” — is its dogged refusal, using the legal shield of its status as a 501c4 corporation, to disclose the names of its financial backers. This matters, in part, because Americans Elect got off the ground with $20 million of seed money given by only 50-some anonymous donors. That’s 50 nameless investors ponying up an average of $400,000 apiece, although, in one rare case in which the name is known, Americans Elect founder and CEO Peter Ackerman has given at least $1.55 million and, according to Bloomberg — the news organization, not the draft Americans Elect presidential candidate — more than $5 million.

Editorials: The electoral train wreck scenario | Martin Frost/

Train wrecks don’t happen often in American politics. But there could be one in this presidential election. And if it occurs, it will be big. Consider. The Constitution has a specific provision regarding an Electoral College deadlock. The bottom line is that if no candidate receives a majority — 270 — of the 538 electoral votes, then the next president will be chosen by the House of Representatives, with each state having one vote. It has happened twice in our history — the election of 1800 and then 1824. But given Congress’s current low repute — 9 percent approval rating in one poll — all hell would break loose if the House wound up selecting the next president. This scenario can happen only if there is a viable third-party candidate who wins at least some electoral votes. Most states still decide their electoral votes on a winner-take-all basis, so the third-party candidate would need to win a state or two, and the election would otherwise need to be close.

National: Internet picks presidential candidate if Ackerman gets his way | The News Journal

It’s just after 8 a.m. on Nov. 11, and Peter Ackerman is staring at red numbers flashing on an electronic board. He sees 2,008,069. “That’s 2 million Americans who have signed on to having another candidate on the presidential ballot,” he says, beaming, in the Manhattan offices of the marketing agency for Americans Elect, the group he’s backing with more than $5 million. Ackerman, 65, who made more than $300 million working alongside Michael Milken at Drexel Burnham Lambert Inc.’s Beverly Hills, California, offices in the 1980s, is Americans Elect’s chairman and top donor. He wants to circumvent U.S. politics-as-usual by letting voters choose a presidential candidate via the Internet who, with a running mate from a different political party, will appear on every state ballot for the 2012 election, Bloomberg Markets magazine reports in its February issue.

National: Americans Elect Makes Plans to Broker the 2012 Presidential Election | Irregular Times

Richard Winger and Mark B. identify a revealing section of the Americans Elect corporate bylaws recently posted online by the states of Nevada and Florida. The Americans Elect corporation, which aims to arrange the election of its own candidates for President and Vice President of the United States, imagines a circumstance in which Americans Elect [“AE”] wins one or more states but not enough to win the presidency for itself. What will its designated electors do then?

Elector agrees that Elector shall remain unpledged until convening of votes for the Electoral College, with the exception of the following conditions:

a. Plurality or Majority Vote for AE Ticket: If the AE ticket receives more votes nationally than any other ticket, the Elector shall solely vote in the affirmative for the AE nominees and for no other candidate;

b. Coalition Agreement: If the AE ticket receives fewer popular votes nationally than the ticket of at least one of the major political parties but no party has attained a majority of the national popular vote and the AE delegates have convened in the Convention after the general election but before the Electoral College vote and endorsed a candidate of either major political party on such terms as may be reflected in the vote of endorsement, the Elector shall vote solely for the candidates as instructed by the Delegates and for no other candidate.

Under the law, of course, presidential electors are free to support whichever candidate they please. But according to the bylaws, Americans Elect will require its electors to sign a contract agreeing to the above plan or to pay a penalty of half a million dollars:

National: Americans Elect Seeks Third-Party Contender |

In a city that thrives on power, being attacked is often a sign that you have some. So in mid-December, when President Obama’s advisers took aim at Americans Elect, a bipartisan clutch of political elites planning to bankroll a third candidate in the 2012 presidential election, the group’s members reacted with dramatized indignation that couldn’t quite disguise their glee. “On the left, the Democrats are worried,” says Doug Schoen, Bill Clinton’s former pollster and a frequent Obama critic. “On the right, the Republicans are worried. That tells us we are doing something right.”

What Americans Elect has done is fashion a new twist to the quadrennial quest for a credible third-party contender. Instead of an outside party, it has crafted a parallel nominating process: a nonpartisan online convention. Anyone with a valid ID and an Internet hookup is eligible to become a “delegate,” and candidates can either register by completing a questionnaire or be drafted by popular support. Through a series of online ballots, the slate of contenders will be whittled down to six in April, and then to a single winner in June. In keeping with the group’s shibboleths, the nominee must tap a member of a different party as a running mate, forming a “unity ticket” that will occupy the chasm in the political center.

Editorials: Americans Elect needs to identify its donors | Sacramento Bee

Americans Elect certainly is stirring up 2012 presidential politics as it seeks a path for a centrist alternative to challenge President Barack Obama and whoever the Republican nominee might be. The upstart organization has successfully obtained a place for an as-yet unnamed candidate on California’s 2012 presidential ballot. By year’s end, Americans Elect hopes to have gained access to ballots in 30 states, toward a goal of having ballot space in all 50 states.

To the extent that competition for the two-party system is good, this nonprofit group offers value. But there are serious questions about an organization whose logo includes a question mark. The biggest one: Who are all the funders of Americans Elect? To finance the ballot access drive, Americans Elect’s leaders say donors have given $30 million. The money pays for signature-gathering efforts in some states and legal fees to help meet requirements in other states.

But other than saying that its founder, investor Peter Ackerman, has donated $5.5 million, Americans Elect hasn’t identified its contributors. The reason, according Ackerman’s son and Americans Elect’s chief operating officer Elliot Ackerman, is that donors worry about consequences if they’re identified.

California: Americans Elect Candidate Will Be on California Ballot | ABC News

Americans Elect, an organization trying to draft a nonpartisan presidential ticket through online voting, has achieved what it called a “major milestone” in its effort, securing access to the ballot in California, the group announced today.

After collecting a record-breaking 1.62 million signatures, Americans Elect announced its nominee will be on the ballot in California, making the largest state in the nation’s 55 electoral votes up for grabs for an independent presidential candidate in 2012. “It’s a huge hurdle,” said Americans Elect Spokeswoman Ileana Wachtel. “It is probably the hardest state to get access in. Once California is accomplished I think anything could be accomplished. Any state is doable.”

Americans Elect now has a spot on the ballot in 12 states. It joins six other parties on the California ballot including, of course, Republicans and Democrats but also the Green Party, the Libertarian Party, the American Independent Party and the Peace and Freedom Party.

Editorials: Who’s behind Americans Elect and what they want | Los Angeles Times

A few weeks ago I wrote about an effort to put a centrist “third party” candidate on the presidential ballot next year, launched by an organization called Americans Elect. The privately funded group plans to stage a wide-open primary on the Internet, to enable voters to choose a ticket drawn from the middle of the political spectrum. Voters can propose anyone they like, but the process is designed for potential centrist candidates such as New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, former Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr.

That column provoked a torrent of questions from readers. Some asked: Isn’t this just a Republican plot to seduce independents away from President Obama? Others asked: Isn’t this just a Democratic plot to seduce moderates away from the GOP? These are fair questions in an age in which seemingly benign proposals sometimes conceal hidden agendas. So I did some more digging to find out who is behind Americans Elect and what it’s really after.

Voting Blogs: Meet the Political Reform Group That’s Fueled by Dark Money | Mother Jones

An upstart political reform group called Americans Elect is looking to blow apart the Democrat-Republican duopoly that dominates American politics. Its imaginative scheme: nominating an independent presidential candidate over the internet. The group is on the ballot in a half-dozen states, and the national buzz surrounding its initiative is growing—but so too are the questions about who’s bankrolling this effort and the security of the outfit’s voting procedures.

Americans Elect rose from the ashes of Unity08, a group formed in 2006 to increase access to the electoral system for independent presidential candidates. Via Americans Elect’s website, registered voters can sign up as “delegates” and nominate “any American [they] believe can be a great leader.” (For reference, the site offers a lengthy list of current political figures.) In April, delegates will winnow the field of candidates to six finalists,  each of whom will then select a running mate from another party (if a finalist decides not to run, he or she can decline). And in June, Americans Elect plans to hold an online convention to decide which candidate will appear on the Americans Elect ballot line.

To become certified as a political party, the group must first collect a certain number of signatures in each state. All told, Americans Elect plans to spend $10 million on this effort.So far the group has been certified in six states, including key swing states Florida and Michigan. Certification is pending in California. That’s an encouraging sign for a group hoping to starting an electoral revolution.

Editorials: A democracy deficit at Americans Elect? | Richard Hasen/Politico

The new group Americans Elect is trying to ease the path for an independent presidential candidate chosen by voters in a national Internet primary to appear on the election ballot in all 50 states. This is a tall order — achieving national ballot access for a third-party candidate to run against President Barack Obama and the Republican nominee is complicated and expensive.

Enthusiasm for this group is growing. But it could be misplaced. Tom Friedman said in The New York Times that Americans Elect will do to the two-party duopoly “what did to books, what the blogosphere did to newspapers, what the iPod did to music [and] what did to pharmacies.” Perhaps.

Rather than gush about this group, I fear many aspects of it: its secrecy; the uncertain security for its Internet election and, most important, the lack of democracy in its system for electing a presidential nominee.