Why Americans Elect Must Fully Disclose its Funders: It’s Who Counts the Votes
Americans Elect is a Chapter 501c4 corporation which is also registered as a political party in multiple states and attempting to gain ballot access for in all fifty. The corporation/political party’s goal, through as-yet unspecified means, is to arrange the election of its own candidates for President and Vice President of the United States. I’ve been following the activities of Americans Elect for over a year; you can read the thread of my posts on Americans Elect here.
As I noted earlier this week, Americans Elect has not disclosed the names of any of its funders or the amounts of any monetary contributions to it since October 2010. This is not a trivial matter considering Americans Elect’s generally stated aims: “Americans Elect will hold a secure vote in the first-ever online presidential nominating convention.”
How will we know the vote is secure? For Republican, Democratic and various other third parties, the answer is simple: let the local boards of election of various localities conduct and count the vote, with participating parties able to send observers. But Americans Elect has not chosen this method. Americans Elect intends to run its own election.
So how will we know the vote is secure? Because its security is vouched for by an independent third-party, perhaps? There’s a problem with that scheme: if the American people aren’t told who the funders of Americans Elect are, we have no way of knowing whether or not the auditing firm is behind Americans Elect. As long as A.E. donors are kept secret, there’s no way to demonstrate that the nominating vote has been secured independently.
How will we know who the winner of the Americans Elect online nomination is? In a traditional election, the answer is to let boards of election conduct the count while party representatives watch. But the Americans Elect corporation/party is holding its election online, where there is no board of election with jurisdiction.
Will Americans Elect count the votes itself? If it does, how can the American people trust that Americans Elect hasn’t rigged the vote? The answer is to have an independent third party watch the vote count or conduct the vote count itself, and then certify the election as valid. But unless Americans Elect discloses the sources of all its funding, we cannot know whether that supposed independent auditor is actually independent. Even if the auditor signs a statement declaring that he/she/it has not contributed any funds to Americans Elect, the cloud of uncertainty will not be dissipated: did the auditor’s family members fund Americans Elect? Did the auditor set up a separate entity to funnel money to Americans Elect? These sorts of things can be ferreted out if the identity of funders is disclosed. But as long as Americans Elect keeps those secret, we just won’t know.
Trust in the veracity of an online election to nominate candidates for the two most powerful positions on the entire planet cannot be established without verification. Verification of independence cannot be established when Americans Elect keeps the identity of its funders secret. If Americans Elect wants its election to be trusted by the American people, it must disclose its funders. Not using pseudonyms, and not disclosing only some of them. Americans Elect must disclose the identity of all its funders to establish trust.
P.S. Everything I’ve said here about financial contributors also applies to financial expenditures. To whom is Americans Elect’s money flowing? Who are the recipients of Americans Elect’s largesse? If we don’t know the answers to these questions, we cannot determine who is and who isn’t acting independently or on behalf of Americans Elect.
You guessed it: Americans Elect stopped disclosing its expenditures in October 2010. You and I have no idea where Americans Elect money is being spent — and that’s no way to run a trustworthy election.