Northwest Voices | Letters to the Editor
Americans Elect wants third-party candidate on 2012 ballot
Posted by Letters editor
Group suffers from lack of transparency
I read with interest your front-page article on the new organization called Americans Elect, which says it has raised $22 million to place a third-party presidential candidate on the ballot next year. [“New moderate group wants third candidate on 2012 ballot,” Nov. 25.]
I was concerned, however, that the article failed to identify some major problems with this effort — problems that University of California professor Rick Hasen as called a “democracy deficit” at Americans Elect (www.politico.com/news/stories/1111/67965.html).
Hasen identified three big problems with Americans Elect. First, although it claims to offer voters the chance to choose a third presidential candidate, in fact Americans Elect is plainly undemocratic. Its board reserves the right to overrule the vote of its members, and one of its leaders, Peter Ackerman, has said that the organization will reject any nominee chosen by its voters if the candidate does not fit the board’s definition of “centrist.”
Second, Americans Elect has decided to hide its donors, so there is no way to know where the $22 million comes from — or, in fact to verify that the $22 million exists at all.
The organization has done this by organizing itself as a 501c4 organization — insisting that it isn’t really a political organization because it’s not a political party, even though it’s raising money to promote a candidate and defining itself as a party to get on the ballot in many states.
Finally, Americans Elect claims that it will hold a fair nomination process. But if you can’t prove to its satisfaction that you have valid voter ID, you’re out of luck. If you don’t have an Internet connection? Too bad. If you want to get on the board that has the power to actually choose the nominee? Nope, the board members chose themselves, and aren’t elected by anybody.
An open- and public-election process — including disclosure of political donors, a transparent nomination process and ballot availability and security — is essential to democracy and public trust. Americans Elect, so far, fails on all three counts.
— Bill Sherman, Seattle
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