“Any registered voter can become an Americans Elect delegate.” — Americans Elect
“Not really.” — Me
Americans Elect is a secretive 501c4 corporation with the aim of arranging the election of its own presidential candidate in 2012. Thanks to legally-mandated filings with the states of Nevada and Florida, new bylaws adopted by the Board of Directors of Americans Elect on July 1 2011 are available for your review. It’s a long and interesting document, and I encourage you to read it when you have some time to spare. It comes to the public in a chunky old-style pdf format, but I’ll post a more easily searchable transcript of it in a few days’ time.
For now, I’d like to share this section on Americans Elect’s requirements of delegates, the people who will be allowed to vote in the Americans Elect presidential nomination. Contrary to Americans Elect’s public declarations, not every registered voter will be eligible to become a delegate, and Americans Elect reserves the right to revoke delegate membership for a variety of offenses, including the offense of dissent:
“Section 2.4. Standard of Conduct and Delegate Pledge. All persons as a condition of their status as Members or Delegates of Americans Elect shall refrain from engaging in criminal conduct which the Board determines will or reasonably can be perceived to cause public disrepute of Americans Elect. Additionally, all Delegates shall agree to a written pledge as a condition of their participation in Americans Elect in a form to be determined by the Rules Committee: (l) to support the purpose of Americans Elect; (2) to help approve and then adhere to the official rules of the Americans Elect online convention process; and (3) to respect opposing views, in the same manner that the candidates for the Americans Elect nomination are to do, and to avoid incivility or personal disparagement of any other Member or Delegate. Subject to appeal to and binding determination by the Board or its designee, any person violating this Standard of Conduct or Delegate Pledge may be terminated from Americans Elect without prior notice by the Board on its own initiative or on petition of the Delegates.”
If you have a criminal record, then sorry, but you’re not eligible to vote under the Americans Elect system. In order to become a delegate, you’ll have to sign a written document first, a Pledge that takes the form of a loyalty oath. If you don’t “support the purpose of Americans Elect,” then under the Americans Elect system you can be prohibited from voting. If you don’t offer sufficient “respect,” then you can be prohibited from voting. If you show any “incivility,” then you can be prohibited from voting. And if you offer any “personal disparagement of any other Member or Delegate,” which would include Americans Elect leadership, then you can be tossed off the Americans Elect voter rolls.
Under the newly articulated Americans Elect system, dissent, criticism, the sharing of accurate information that puts Americans Elect leadership in a bad light, being unsure if Americans Elect is the right way to go, or even asking uncomfortable questions can bring you into the offender’s zone, punishable by disenfranchisement. Isn’t that about sixty years out of date, buried along with Senator Joe McCarthy?
Say what you want about the foibles of Democratic Party and the Republican Party, but they don’t issue a blanket ban on people with a criminal past from having party membership or voting privileges. They don’t prohibit questioning, critical, or dissenting people from voting in their nominating elections. Americans Elect has a number of interesting ideas to share about politics. But in this regard, Americans Elect is taking an unfortunate step backward.
Oh, dear, I’ve opened my big mouth. Does that mean I can’t vote now?
As part of an effort to provide direct feedback to Americans Elect and give them a chance to explain themselves, and because Americans Elect makes a show of telling the American people to “ask us anything,” I’m sending the following question to Americans Elect via its online question form and by e-mail:
I've been trying to initiate a dialogue with you for nearly a year, but you never write or call back. I'm still hoping that you might decide to communicate. I'll try again with a new question:
What is Americans Elect's rationale for introducing Section 2.4 into its bylaws on July 1 2011, a provision that could take away the right to vote from citizens who voice dissent or opposition in regard to the Americans Elect organization, the Americans Elect leadership or their actions?