The Office of Legislative and Constituent Affairs under the Secretary of State of California has helpfully passed on a copy of a letter by California Secretary of State legislative counsel Rachelle C. Delucchi to Americans Elect corporate executives Peter Ackerman and Kahlil Byrd. This letter, which regards the Americans Elect’s efforts to qualify for the 2012 presidential ballot in California, outlines contingent dates for the corporation/political party to submit signatures.
Under California’s current plan for a presidential primary on February 7, 2012, the Secretary of State must determine whether Americans Elect qualifies for the presidential primary ballot by September 25, 2011. But September 25 is not Americans Elect’s date to submit its signatures for ballot qualification, as the letter explains:
To permit county elections officials to utilize the time afforded to them under the law to review those signatures, our office recommends that petition signatures be filed with those officials on or before May 25, 2011.
May 25, 2011 is only nine days from now. That’s not a long period of time for Americans Elect to finish gathering the 1,030,040 signatures it requires to get on the ballot. It’s already begun its collection efforts, but those have been underway for less than two months. It will take a lot of effort for Kellen Arno and Arno Political Consultants to finish their work, which will succeed or fail on the basis of the amount of money Americans Elect is willing to spend to hire paid signature gatherers. Americans Elect’s current budget is wholly undisclosed to the public, as is the source of its funding to get its political candidates on the presidential ballot. We do know that Americans Elect is offering a relatively low $1.25 per signature, which may be indicative of either budgetary problems at Americans Elect or simply a penny-pinching approach with contractors.
But wait: there’s another twist on the road Americans Elect is taking to California ballot access. California is currently considering Assembly Bill 80, which would move the state’s presidential primary date to June 5, 2012. In that case, the letter states that Americans Elect would have to file its signatures by September 16, 2011, giving the corporation more time to gather signatures for its eventual candidate.
And here’s the final twist: Assembly Bill 80 has been passed unanimously by the California State Assembly, but has not yet been considered by the California State Senate. If it wants to bet on the bill’s passage, Americans Elect has breathing room. But if the corporation wants to play it safe, it will need to submit its signatures in just nine days regardless of the bill’s eventual fate. What will Americans Elect do? You won’t have to wait long to see.
Update, May 18: The California Secretary of State has reiterated these advisories in a letter to county elections officials. You can read the letter here.