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2nd Mystery Reference to Rules Americans Elect has not Publicly Released

Lee Mortimer dismisses as “paranoid” the notion that there might be “super-secret bylaws Americans Elect has re-written, and chosen not to share with the American people,” but it’s hard to come to another conclusion now that a mystery “100,000 rule” has been referred by an Americans Elect insider for the second time in a week.

John Avlon, one of many Washington insiders working with both the congress-oriented 501c4 corporation No Labels and the presidential-oriented 501c4 corporation Americans Elect, made reference on Thursday September 29 to “new rules” for Americans Elect:

One understandably skeptical response to this vision of an online convention is to imagine all the ways it could be hijacked by activist groups or special interests. The checks and balances set out in the new rules should calm at least some concerns.

Any registered voter can participate in the process. To date, 110,000 people have signed up online to be Americans Elect delegates — more than 10 times the number of delegates who participate in the Republican and Democratic conventions combined.

Any potential candidate with a professional background commensurate with the past 44 presidents — governors, senators, congressmen, Cabinet secretaries, flag-rank military officers, CEOs, or college presidents — would automatically qualify if they received 10,000 online clicks of support.

Any other citizen would be allowed to petition to put their name forward, providing they could accumulate at least 100,000 on-line support clicks — including a minimum of 10,000 supporters from 10 states — to determine broad-based support.

Avlon is technically incorrect about one thing: there currently are no “delegates” to Americans Elect. According to the latest published bylaws of Americans Elect, delegates are not just people who sign up for an account at

Section 2.3. Delegates. Delegates are Members who have submitted sufficient information to permit verification of their lawful status as registered voters and citizens of the United States, and who have been so verified by Americans Elect, and who have accepted the Delegate Pledge as provided by the Rules Committee.

None of these steps have yet been made possible by Americans Elect. There are therefore currently no Americans Elect delegates.

John Avlon’s standards of “10,000 clicks” and “100,000 clicks” as means of drafting presidential candidates are also not found in the current published bylaws for the conduct of Americans Elect. But they are found somewhere else — a transcript of remarks made the same day on Oregon Public Radio by Americans Elect National Field Director Kellen Arno:

I mean, uh, what you would need to do is to, to show support from, uh, a big enough group of the delegate base that that person is someone that they’d like to see. Um, I believe right now in the rules it’s written that they would need to show, um, would need to get effectively, you know, an online signature being a show of support from, I think it’s a hundred thousand. A hundred thousand people.

Has Americans Elect passed a new implementation of its rules, one which specifies this hundred-thousand-person standard for identifying a nominee? If that’s not the case, then two Americans Elect officials have independently reported the same fiction, which seems unlikely. But if the passage of new rules has come to pass, then two things should have happened that have not happened:

1. Americans Elect should have posted these new rules to its website on its Official Documents web page… a three-minute action which is as simple as uploading an attachment to an e-mail.

2. Americans Elect should have posted public notice in advance of its meeting on its website… an action which is required under Florida state law.

The Americans Elect corporation can show goodwill to the American people in whose name it acts by complying with the law and heeding its prior commitment to disseminate its documentation. I urge Americans Elect to comply with these basic standards of transparency. I urge you to urge Americans Elect to comply with these basic standards of transparency.

9 thoughts on “2nd Mystery Reference to Rules Americans Elect has not Publicly Released”

  1. Ralph says:

    My guess is that they’re not being uber secretive about clandestine meetings and secret sets of bylaws. What I’ve seen from them so far looks more to me like they’re just making this shit up as they go along. The core group of Americans Elect seems like a bunch of friends who probably just hang out and shoot the shit every now and then, without calling it a formal meeting. My guess is that somebody floated the 100,000 idea in one of their informal hang-out sessions, and enough of them kinda thought it was a good idea to start talking about it as though that’s how things were done.

    This supposition (and it’s nothing more than that, I could be wrong) is based on the obvious fact that it’s just far too half-assed a measure to have come about through some systematic formal meeting held in Peter Ackerman’s swank office or some hollowed-out volcano or wherever their headquarters is. It seems rather like an idea that a bunch of people at a party come up with, the kind seems like a nifty idea so long as the party is in swing. “100,000. That sounds good.” “Yeah.” “Good idea.”

    It’s a half-assed idea for a number of reasons.. They don’t really know how many delegates they’re going to get. Suppose they end up with less than 100,000 who are willing to cast a vote on certification–of anybody–by the time they get around to doing this? They’re screwed, back to the drawing board. Suppose they end up with millions or even tens of millions of people willing to go to a website and click on something? Then 100,000 is a very small percentage of their online participants. What if some fringe guy–possibly with the kind of shady help Nader got from the Republicans in 2004–ends up snagging Americans Elect certification with 100,000 clicks? Do they really think a Republican or Democratic dirty tricks machine couldn’t generate 100,000 online clicks to get the spoiler they want?

    If none of that convinces you they’re making this up as they go along, consider this: If 100,000 clicks is the mechanism for candidate certification, what the hell is the Candidate Certification Committee for? It’s clear nobody sat down, thought this through systematically, then took a good hard critical look at it.

    The making-it-up-as-they-go-along hypothesis would account for other things we’ve seen with them–one person saying one thing and someone else saying another or filing a form that says another, cronies in the core group given various titles and official positions in the organization in various sources.

    I really don’t think an organized team has sat down and methodically worked out a set of shadow rules Americans Elect is secretly run by. They’re pulling it out of their asses.

    I’m not saying that make-it-up-as-you-go-along approach is positive or even harmless. Far from it. Over the course of history, we’ve seen enough bad outcomes from monarchs or chairmen (hmmm…Peter Ackerman occupies the same position as Mao…) coming up with random harebrained ideas nobody down the food chain challenges critically until it’s too late.

    I do think a genuinely democratic approach sharpened by rigorous rational debate at every step of the process would be a much better alternative. Hey, a man can dream.

  2. angloraven says:

    What will count are the presidential and vice presidential candidates who ultimately represent Americans Elect on the 2012 ballot. Who they are is what will matter, not how they were selected. You don’t like ’em, don’t vote for ’em. What happens to Americans Elect assets — well, that’s another story.

    1. Ralph says:

      angloraven, I couldn’t disagree with you more. I think the way in which presidential candidates are chosen matters a great deal in the context of democracy.

    2. Peregrin Wood says:

      You don’t think that political party members ought to have a say in how presidential candidates are elected? Well, then, why do you believe it matters whether we get a vote in the general election?

      Rather anti-democracy attitude of yours.

  3. Lee Mortimer says:

    Once again, Jim Cook mischaracterizes my response to one of his posts. My statement read, “To suggest AE’s board of directors would whip out some ‘super-secret bylaws Americans Elect has re-written, and chosen not to share with the American people’ just at the moment they were ready to impose their choice of a nominee takes things to the paranoid extreme.”

    I never “dismissed as paranoid” the possibility AE may be considering some as yet unannounced new rules. I simply said they wouldn’t trot out any new rules at the last minute to impose a choice on the delegates. The fact that two different AE officials are freely talking about some new procedures shows they are anything but “super-secret.” Of course, that doesn’t mean they make rational sense.

    Ralph’s “They’re making it up as they go along” and “One person saying one thing and someone else saying another” may provide a more rational explanation for AE’s erratic conduct than any of Jim’s conspiracy-mongering. That’s why I say Americans Elect needs to clear up the confusion they’ve created on this and other issues.

    1. Jim Cook says:

      What a silly! I didn’t say there was a conspiracy. Conspiracies are about motivations, and I’m not interested in discussing motivations, because I can’t observe them.

      I’m interested in observing behavior, and there do appear to be some secret bylaws that Americans Elect has re-written and chosen not to share with the American people.

      I’m interested in changing Americans Elect’s behavior, which is why I’ve asked them to make their apparent new rules of the road public. See here:

      1. Lee Mortimer says:

        I’m also interested in changing Americans Elect’s behavior. That’s why I said they should clear up the confusion they’ve created. I think that’s what Ralph is getting at, too.

      2. Peregrin Wood says:

        Speaking of observable behavior, let’s compare the observable behavior of the Occupy Movement and Americans Elect.

        Americans Elect claims to be grassroots, but is paid for with money from rich donors, and in spite of that, Americans Elect can’t seem to get many people to turn out for anything at all.

        The Occupy Movement also claims to be grassroots, but unlike Americans Elect, there’s no big money flowing into the system. There are no swank corporate offices. Yet, people are turning out in the thousands, spontaneously, in big cities and small towns across the country, without any centralized command or instructions.

        The Occupy Movement is a genuine grassroots expression of political ideals. Americans Elect is a public relations campaign that’s trying to create the appearance of grassroots – and failing.

  4. Lee Mortimer says:

    Jim, Did you see this article from Daily Beast published 9/29? Lots of detail if you’re of a mind to dig in.

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