Apart from the question of whether it’s a good idea for Americans Elect to run its own private, corporate-run presidential nomination in 2012, there’s the question of whether Americans Elect can technically and organizationally pull the effort off. There’s not much time between now and April 17 2012, when according to its most recently released rules Americans Elect is scheduled to hold its first secure online vote.
That’s just 162 days from now, and there’s a lot for Americans Elect to do. As of today, Americans Elect has not verified the voter registration status of a single delegate. Americans Elect hasn’t released names of any independent auditors or reports from such auditors verifying the stability and security of its online voting system. It doesn’t have a finalized set of rules for running that vote. Finally, with only 162 days to go, Americans Elect doesn’t have any candidates and doesn’t have any existing means for people to declare their presidential candidacy or to begin efforts to draft candidates.
When Americans Elect first released its Candidate and Draft Committee Briefing Book to the public, it declared that “As of November 6, 2011 (exactly one year before the 2012 election), candidates may formally file on the website and the Delegates may start draft efforts for any leaders they think should run.”
This was Americans Elect’s first self-imposed deadline. It created the first benchmark by which the rest of us could assess Americans Elect’s organizational capability.
Yesterday was November 6. Today is November 7. There is no feature on the Americans Elect website allowing candidates to formally file or allowing delegates to start draft committees. Rather than meet the deadline, Americans Elect released a new version of its Briefing Book in which the deadline no longer exists.
Americans Elect has failed its first test of organizational capability. This is not a positive indicator of Americans Elect’s ability as an organization to accomplish the goals it sets out for itself.
More importantly, with each additional day of delay before Americans Elect rolls out the verified delegate, candidate and draft committee systems it has promised for its website, there is one less day for an honest-to-goodness grassroots presidential campaign to get off the ground using the Americans Elect system. For wealthy candidates and wealth-backed draft committees that can spend huge amounts of their own money on short notice, shorter campaign periods don’t pose much of a problem. But bottom-up, grassroots, people-powered campaigns take time to spread and gain the support they need. If Americans Elect takes much longer to initiate its nomination campaign system, only elite candidates backed by big money will be able to effectively participate.