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Americans Elect posts Draft Rules and Candidate Handbook

Americans Elect, the 501c4 corporation seeking to arrange the nomination of its own presidential candidates through a private process in 2012, has posted its draft rules (“pending public comment and rules committee adoption”) and candidate handbook.

One highlight from the draft rules:

1.2 Acceptance of Delegate Pledge. Any Delegate shall submit via the Americans Elect website, www.americanselect.org (“Website”) their acceptance of the Delegate Pledge substantially in the form attached in Table 1 below and shall conduct themselves in accordance with the requirements of the Delegate Pledge to remain eligible to vote as a Delegate.

Table 1. Delegate Pledge

Americans Elect Delegate Pldege

As an Americans Elect Delegate, I pledge to:

  • Support the Mission of Americans Elect, which seeks to nominate a Presidential ticket that will campaign and govern with no regard for party affiliation in order to build the coalitions necessary to solve the challenges that face our Nation;
  • Adhere to the official Rules of the Americans Elect nominating process; and
  • Conduct myself with respect for opposing views in the same manner I demand of the candidates of the Americans Elect nomination to find the common ground necessary to solve the challenges that face our Nation.

1.5 Disqualification of Delegates. Any Delegates may be disqualified from voting and participation in Americans Elect for violation of the Delegate Pledge as provided by these Rules as follows:

1.5.1. Petition of Delegates or Board. Upon petition on the Website of 1,000 or more Delegates by flagging any Delegate for violation of the Delegate Pledge, or upon its own motion, the Board may disqualify any person as a Delegate with or without notice.

What are your reactions to the Draft Rules and Handbook?

36 comments to Americans Elect posts Draft Rules and Candidate Handbook

  • Hendrix

    Wow, any 1000 people out of 300 million could take away your right to vote?
    I think I’ll join up with Bernie Sanders and 998 of our closest friends!

    • Lee Mortimer

      Bernie Sanders could declare as a candidate for the Americans Elect nomination. Under the rules as a U.S. Senator, Sanders would be an “Automatically Qualified Candidate.” You just need to encourage your friends to register as AE delegates and then work for a Sanders nomination.

      But you (and they) would have to agree to the delegate pledge. And it wouldn’t take 1000 other delegates to remove you as a delegate. The board could do it on its own if they felt you violated the pledge you agreed to. The pledge doesn’t seem that stringent. It shouldn’t be that difficult for you (and your friends) to abide by and work for your candidate of choice.

      • Hendrix

        Right, the thousand of us would work the efficient way by disqualifying the other delegates. Can’t count on the board to do that.

        Note, to even become a delegate you have to prove you are a registered voter. No one should be able to take away your right to vote after that.

        • Lee Mortimer

          They’re not talking about your “right to vote.” Participating in an online nomination process is not equivalent to “voting” in a public election. But what about working for Bernie Sanders as the nominee for president?

        • You’re right, Lee. The Americans Elect system is not comparable to voting in a public election.

          On the other hand, for normal primary elections around the country the system absolutely is voting in a public election.

          Thanks for pointing out that important difference.

        • Hendrix

          Of course I mean your right to vote on all AE matters. I am quite glad and aware that arbitrary AE rules don’t control public elections.

  • Lee Mortimer

    JIm, An online nominating process is not equivalent to a public party primary. If you will remember, before party primaries came into general use, presidential nominees were selected by delegates at in-person state, and sometimes county, conventions.

    Minor parties today, such as the Libertarians and Greens, continue to select their presidential nominees through conventions. That’s because the government has not offered to administer and pay for their nomination processes–or that those parties prefer to hold their own conventions. It’s not at all unusual that rules of conduct would be imposed on party convention delegates, and that delegates might lose their participation rights if found in violation of those rules.

    But you’re still avoiding the question I’ve asked three times. Now that Americans Elect has clarified its nomination procedures, why not take advantage of AE’s process to nominate Bernie Sanders for president? According to your colleague J.Clifford, that’s what a large number of Occupy participants say they’d like to see happen.

    • If the Americans Elect process is secure and cannot be gamed by those in control of it, there’s no reason not to.

      If the Americans Elect process is not secure and can be gamed by those in control of it, there’s every reason not to.

      The questions of the security and gaming of the procedure by those in control are therefore central.

      • Lee Mortimer

        Jim, That’s an entirely separate question, and I agree with you that Americans Elect needs to make sure the process is secure and free from interference, both from within and from without. Glad we seem to moving toward some agreement in this exchange.

      • And then there’s what Hendrix pointed out… the sort of way in which outsiders might game the system.

        Ex. Get 1,000 friends to flag Delegates whose politics you don’t like, and you’ve got a mess.

  • Lee Mortimer

    Well, I suppose something like that could happen, but it seems a bit far-fetched. What would you be doing in “expressing your politics” that would prompt a sudden effort to orchestrate 1000 other delegates to flag your words? And if your “infraction” were clearly arbitrary or specious, the board would have to give your appeal fair consideration. Any registered delegate can suggest a modification to any of the rules. They’re still in draft stage.

    • Remember “Nader Trader”? Remember the Superdelegates? When the stakes are high, people think of all sorts of things.

      • Lee Mortimer

        “Nader trader” referred to a “vote trading” plan in 2000 whereby Nader supporters in battleground states would vote for Gore in exchange for Gore supporters in non-battleground states agreeing to vote for Nader. It was something that took time to organize and was ultimately abandoned when Republicans threatened to bring legal action for “vote fraud.”

        An orchestrated “flagging” effort would have to be highly organized and involve thousands of delegates in order to torpedo one candidate and put the flaggers’ candidate ahead. There’s another clause (5.1.3) that says, “Flagging without good cause may itself constitute a violation of the Delegate Pledge, and so Delegates are encouraged to use this mechanism sparingly.”

        The greater concern I’ve heard expressed is that outside forces would try to hack in and change the actual vote count in favor of a particular candidate. That’s what AE will have to work hard to prevent.

  • My name is Sanderson Beck, and I am running for President as a progressive Democrat. I was hoping that AE would provide a process of direct democracy that could transform US presidential elections. After reading their proposed rules I have several serious concerns that I believe the delegates must remedy if this process is to be truly democratic and not be controlled by the “mission” of AE.
    Having taken the early questionnaire I agree that those who have signed up so far are mostly progressive in their views. I believe that if the process is fair and open, that the delegates would nominate a progressive ticket which, in a three-way race between a right-wing Republican and the centrist Obama, could win.
    A problem with the rules is that the Presidential nominee must choose someone from a different party. This might be okay if a Democrat could choose a Socialist (such as Sanders) or a Green. However, another problem is the rule which says they must select someone that “balances” the ticket, and there are also references to a “major party.” Thus this centrist board might interpret their rules in such a way that a Democrat and a Socialist or a Democrat and a Green would not qualify according to their “mission.” If delegates let them get away with doing that, then we could end up with another centrist ticket that would split Obama’s vote and help the Republicans win. This would obviously be a disaster. Thus the delegates must clarify the rules and make sure that the Presidential candidate has the right to choose whomever he or she wants as the Vice Presidential candidate. Thus eliminating the “different party” rule and the “balance” requirements are essential changes to keep the process free and fair.
    Another problem with the rules is the favoring of professional politicians, corporate executives, military officers, etc. According to their rules I would not qualify as the President of a non-profit because the organization has less than 1,000 employees. How those not meeting these criteria are accepted as second-class candidates is rather murky and could also be controlled by the board. Even if they are accepted, they have the disadvantage of having to get ten times as many supporters as those people who already have name recognition because of their celebrity status. This is very elitist and undemocratic, and I believe the delegates should cancel these rules. Everyone who is qualified by the US Constitution should be allowed to run, and the delegates should decide which candidates are to move forward in the elections.

  • Lee Mortimer

    I agree with some of the concerns you express. There is too much emphasis on professional politicians and other elites and not enough opportunity for candidates who might have a lot to offer but haven’t been elected to higher-level posiitons. AE seems oriented toward bringing together established politicians from different political persuasions. That is reflected in the 10-to-1 advantage professional politicians get over those who aren’t professional politicians. AE probably isn’t going to back completely off from that stance. But a reasonable compromise might be to reduce the support clicks requirement from 100,000 to 50,000.

    Another point that has generated a lot of opposition is the requirement for 2/3 of all delegates to overturn anything. As has been pointed out in this forum, getting 2/3 of everyone who has ever registered as a delegate (and may no longer be involved) is an extremely high hurdle. If one draws a parallel to the relationship between the President and Congress, it takes 2/3 of the Congressional members “present and voting” to override a Presidential veto. Two-thirds of those “present and voting” would seem reasonable for delegates to oppose and overturn rules and procedures. Two-thirds of those voting would also address your concern for overturning an “unqualified” ruling by the Candidate Certification Committee.

    Your point about dropping the “different party” and “balance” requirements is simply not going to happen. Balance and “centrism” have been the core mission since AE began as Unity08 four years ago. They’re not about to reverse course on that. You seem to be saying that Obama is the “centrist candidate” now. But Obama is counting on the entire progressive vote falling in line behind him. The kind of left-leaning ticket you envision would split the progressive vote and help the Republicans win. A new centrist ticket that would attract moderates and independents would push Obama and the Democrats further left, where they would then have to prove their worth to progressives.

    Thursday’s email from AE said they would soon establish a forum on the website where we can debate these draft procedures. I’ll be giving feedback there and hope you will also.

  • I do not plan to participate in a rigged system. Changing a 10-to-1 advantage to a 5-to-1 is still unfair and unacceptable. This will be either a free and fair nomination process or not. I believe it is up to the delegates to make sure that it is free, fair, and democratic in the sense that the votes of the registered voters are determinative.

    I agree that requiring two-thirds of all delegates to overturn a decision by the corporate board is absurd. I believe it should be a simple majority of those voting on the issue. Otherwise the corporate board through its Candidate Certification Committee owns the process, not the registered voters.

    The “different party” and “balanced” ticket requirements are also undemocratic and unacceptable if the registered voters are to decide. Actually the usual process in this country is for the Presidential candidate to choose the Vice Presidential candidate who then must only be ratified by the nominating convention. I see no reason to change that tradition in this case. If one of the candidates has to be a Republican, then it is a rigged convention, not an open convention. If they insist on controlling the process in this way, I will not participate, and I would urge others to boycott such a rigged convention. The result in that case would likely be a “balanced” ticket which could actually split the Republican vote and help Obama get re-elected. However, that does not solve the problem that Obama has abandoned his base, and it would make it very difficult for a progressive candidate to be heard and challenge the two corrupt parties. I believe that polls on major issues show that a majority in this country now are progressive and that a good progressive candidate could win in a three-way race. I am running as a Democrat rather than as a Green because I do not want to hurt Obama in the final election; but the AE convention changed the situation by promising to get a viable third ticket on the ballot in all fifty states. If the delegates are allowed to nominate who they really want, I believe that the candidate would have an excellent chance of winning which could move this nation toward the changes we need which the two corrupt parties have been blocking.

    If the AE board and its committees insist on dominating the process, I believe that someone ought to challenge Obama in the primaries, or a group should set up another on-line convention that would be free and fair.

    Also the AE pledge contains the commitment that the candidate must promise to campaign and govern “regardless” of party. That is bound to be an absurd and insincere pledge. US politics, especially in Congress, is always based on considerations of party in planning strategy. As a person of integrity I will not take such a phony pledge. That does not mean that I am not open to all ideas regardless of where they come from, but an honest candidate will not place such artificial limits on his or her campaigning and governing.

    It will be interesting to see how the delegates respond to these artificial and rigged rules. I believe in democracy and that people can take control of the election process in order to bring about what is best for everyone, not just for the rich or special interests. AE has an opportunity to radically democratize the Presidential nominating process, but these rules need to be modified for that to happen. Otherwise americanselect will not be AE but American Select (SE).

  • Reuben Lack

    The AE process will certainly be interesting to watch and participate in. I agree with some of the comments made above regarding the 2/3 requirement and the 10-1 ratio for certain established politicians and figures in comparison to newer/less-known candidates.

    I have sent several emails to the folks at AE to clarify how the amendment process will work (re: the draft rules). I registered early in the summer as a delegate and I hope the rule review process will be fair and open.

    Lee — I will be proposing an amendment which reduces the required # of support clicks for non-“professional/established” politicians on the forum. I think a number of 50,000 is a fair compromise which AE and hopefully most other delegates could catch on to. I will report back here, if you are interested, when I get a reply from AE about the draft rules amendment process.

  • Lee Mortimer

    Reuben, I’m glad you’re making your views known about the draft rules. Lowering the requirement for non-career candidates to 50,000 support clicks seems reasonable. Maybe it could go even lower. And the 2/3 vote for overturns should be based on the number of delegates voting, as in a veto override by Congress. Maybe if enough people express those positions, they can be adopted. Keep us posted on anything you hear.

    Sanderson, I don’t think you’ve been paying attention to what AE has been saying. They have made it clear for at least four years that their mission is to nominate a cross-partisan ticket that represents the middle ground between Republicans and Democrats. If you’re expecting them to change that, then you should run in the Democratic primary or go with the Greens. AE would fold up their whole effort before they would abandon that goal.

    Saying that a ticket that leans substantially to the left of Obama could win in a three-way race is an illusion. It’s like predicting that Ralph Nader could have won in 2000–when he got less than 3%. The only third-party ticket that can avoid being a spoiler is one that comes from the middle and draws from both Republicans and Democrats.

  • Reuben Lack

    I have an update. I got a short reply from AE.

    They say that the forum will allow discussions of changes, and imply that if an amendment gets enough support there could be a vote on that revision.

    • Lee Mortimer

      That’s good to hear. Did they say about when the forum will be opening? We need to keep Jim Cook posted. He’s chomping at the bit to make some suggestions.

      • I’ve been making suggestions to Americans Elect for over a year. I’m chomping at the bit for a process by which delegates are able to actually accomplish something.

        • Lee Mortimer

          You’ve been making your suggestions for over five years — since AE was Unity08. BTW, what would you be willing to tell us about Irregular Times’ funding?

        • I am not running for president or running anyone for president, which makes the matter rather different, which you obviously ought to understand. If you understand the difference, you’re being inappropriate.

          But despite your inappropriateness (assuming that you are not dense), our finances: we make about $200 a month off bumper sticker and button sales with messages we believe in, and spend about $190 a month on web hosting.

  • Lee Mortimer

    It’s not accurate to say, as you reflexively do every time you open a new post, that Americans Elect “wants to run its own presidential candidate.” AE is creating a new process by which other people can nominate a presidential ticket within a broad framework of representing the middle ground of American politics.

    Once a ticket has been nominated, the candidates will be on their own and not beholden to Americans Elect. Peter Ackerman will not be able to contribute any more than you, I, or anyone else to the nominees’ campaign. AE will effectively cease to exist once a ticket has been nominated.

    Regarding Irregular Times’ funding, your response relates to expenses rather than funding. I will take you at your word that you guys are just work-a-day Joes who blog as a hobby while relying on other sources of employment, and that there is no “angel” behind the scenes providing salaries, benefits, office space, equipment, etc.

    • Office equipment. Salaries. Benefits. Oh, you’re a hoot, Lee, a real hoot!

      • Lee Mortimer

        It’s just that you seem to have so much time to spend on this. But do you have any response to the main points of my comment?

      • No, other than to urge you to check your facts and to respect your right to come to your own conclusions based on what you see. Except the office equipment bit — I can’t respect that, it’s just too frickin’ hilarious. Do you think we have a secretarial pool and a water cooler, too?

        • Lee Mortimer

          And I take you at your word that there is no “angel” in the background providing stipends to anyone — not that there would be anything wrong with that. I do try to check my facts. Let it be duly noted that you do not dispute any of the ones I stated above?

        • Oh, cut the act. It’s really annoying, Lee, the way you keep dropping claims every week or so on here that Irregular Times is somehow a corrupt puppet, without a shred of evidence to prove it (because there is none). I’ve had enough of it.

          1. No, it’s not “duly noted” that I think you’re correct. I think your facts are off. But it’s not my job to be your daddy and insist that you see things my way. It’s up to you to be diligent.

          2. No, obviously you do not take me at my word on these things, since you’ve been repeatedly making insinuations that Irregular Times is a front being funded by somebody else. So it does no good to say the truth, which is that NO, we are not being given stipends or salaries or water coolers or other forms of money or goodies of any kind for the provision of any information or opinion. It does no good to say that because we’ve explicitly stated that many times before, yet you keep coming back and dropping baseless hints with no evidence accusing us of being corrupt.

          3. What delicious irony that:

          a) you insist that the people of Irregular Times reveal all kinds of personal information, which we have, when we’re not running any election or candidate

          b) you defend Americans Elect, which has next to no transparency and IS running an election with candidates for the most powerful office on Earth.

          It doesn’t matter that I’m writing this, because you’re just going to go on in your merry way and pretend I’ve never said these things and next week shoot out another insinuation that we at Irregular Times are corrupt tools under the pay of some puppetmaster. Just like you’ve been doing for some time now.

          You haven’t checked any facts, because there ARE no facts which would show any sort of salary or stipend or favor or anything else Irregular Times has ever taken from people in order to say anything. Period. You’re just making shit up.

          And that’s why I’ve decided you to label you in my mind as someone who’s trolling for kicks rather than serious about the matter.

          And that’s why I won’t bother to reply again, except perhaps with the word “troll.” My silence doesn’t mean anything except that I’ve learned that you’re not interested in being a genuine person and you’re not worth my time and I’m not interested in dancing when you clap your hands.

    • Dove

      Analogy: Once that carefully designed, built, and tested rocket takes off, its builders have no idea where it will go. As you can clearly read on the side, this rocket was built to go “Exactly where you want it to go once it is arm’s length from the builders.”

  • Lee Mortimer

    I have never said, or even implied, that you or anyone at Irregular Times is “a corrupt puppet.” All I ever asked was whether there might be someone who subsidizes your work. Plenty of reputable organizations have “angels” who support the organization’s work and provide financial assistance behind he scenes. Are you saying such an arrangement would define you as corrupt? I don’t think it does, and I don’t think anyone would read into my questioning that you are “corrupt tools under the pay of a puppetmaster.”

    You will recall it was during an exchange about paying petition circulators that I first raised the question of supplementary funding for IT. I had detected a certain arrogance that people (like me) who need to earn money might be contributing to corruption by circulating AE petitions for pay. So, I didn’t consider it out of line to ask if you were speaking “from a position of financial security.” You told me in no uncertain terms it was none of my business, that it was “creepy,” that it was all kinds of over-hyped adjectives for me to be inquiring into that subject.

    I have no idea where you get that I “shoot out insinuations every week” and “keep coming back and dropping baseless hints with no evidence accusing us of being corrupt.” That is a complete and absolute falsehood. And you know it is. If memory serves, I raised the aforementioned funding question that one time and did not bring up anything related to funding again until this recent exchange.

    More recently, when realizing that you’ve been on this pursuit of AE for over five years, it occurred to me that such an extended undertaking would be difficult for an entirely volunteer organization to sustain. So it did prompt me, again, to raise the question of whether you might be receiving any outside support. But my question in no way suggests any kind of corruption on your part. In fact, I specifically stated (above), “not that there would be anything wrong with (getting a stipend).”

    And of course, I don’t consider Irregular Times to be equivalent to Americans Elect in terms of disclosing financial information. But considering your relentless pursuit of information from AE, it just didn’t seem unreasonable to think that your organization might be willing to volunteer some information about itself. I still think it would be appropriate for IT to formally disclose (beyond your earlier fit of pique) who you are and how you operate.

    What I find most offensive was your attack on my personal and intellectual integrity. Who appointed you to judge who is “serious” and who is “trolling for kicks.” You know for a fact that I am a serious commenter. You know because you went back and linked to comments I made on your blog from four years ago. You know because you started two of your posts by citing my name. You know because one of your posts cited a comment I made in a Unity08 forum chat in 2007. You knew when you “investigated” me when I began commenting recently, and then had to acknowledge that I was “not an AE sock puppet.”

    The problem is not that I have been calling you corrupt because I most certainly have not. The problem is that your arguments don’t always hold up to scrutiny, and when you can’t think of sound rational answers, you resort to distorting what the other person is saying and leveling personal attacks. And then you call out your band of followers to label them “Troll.”

  • Ralph

    You’re a troll, Lee.

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