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Americans Elect Holds its First Vote… and it’s Broken

Visit Americans Elect’s home page at and you’ll see the 501c4 corporation’s countdown to its first ballot. According to Americans Elect, the nation’s first-ever 50-state online election to nominate a presidential candidate will be held in just 150 days. Is Americans Elect technically prepared to pull this off without a hitch — without getting hacked, without violating voter confidentiality, and verifiably counting every vote?

A good indicator is the voting process Americans Elect is holding right now. This morning I visited the “Shape the Debates” feature at Americans Elect which is supposed to allow registered users to vote up or vote down questions. The questions with the most votes are supposed to be presented to presidential candidates next year.

How is the voting process working at Americans Elect? Watch me try it out in the video below:

I couldn’t get my vote recorded. It’s not a temporary problem; I had the same problem a week ago. It’s not just a matter of the browser I was using (Chrome); the same problem pops up when using Internet Explorer.

Yes, it’s a tiny little detail. But elections are the summation of tiny little details. If Americans Elect can’t get its voting to work now, how is it going to get its voting to work in less than half a year when a presidential nomination is at stake?

5 thoughts on “Americans Elect Holds its First Vote… and it’s Broken”

  1. Jim Cook says:

    The next day, the glitch is fixed. Are there any other glitches in the Americans Elect system that you know of?

    1. Jeffrey Lebowski says:

      Jim, there is no such thing as a “glitch.” One of two things is likely responsible for the failure of the issue voting function. Either the software code contained one or more errors, or someone hacked the system. If there is anything Americans Elect needs to be fully transparent about, it is the plan to use Internet voting to nominate a candidate. Full disclosure of what caused this failure and how it was fixed would be an excellent place to start.

      1. Jim Cook says:

        Random House Dictionary for “glitch”: a defect or malfunction in a machine or plan.

        I agree with you that Americans Elect needs to be fully transparent about its internet voting plan and about the stability and security of its voting systems, which at least in this circumstance were insufficient. More on this in a moment.

  2. Joyce McCloy says:

    Americans Elect, like Stalin – knows that it isn’t who you vote for that matters, but who counts the votes.

  3. Bob Voll says:

    For any election of importance, where is the compelling reason to vote in an inherently insecure and unverifiable manner? (My answer would be that there is none.)

    I’m writing from an inherently insecure platform (Win7), with 117 other insecure, unverified processes running in a combination that may not exist anywhere else, much less be tested. Is there a testing methodology that can account for interactions among 118 complex processes, known or unknown, not to mention their unpublished, unverified code? Has my system been cracked by a visit to a nefarious site? Will my vote be hijacked by *anything* between my system and some remote collection site? On the receiving end, even if I get to the intended site, who wrote the code, who verified it, under what conditions, with what interactions, on how secure a platform, under the control of how uncorruptable governance, with how verifiable and uncorruptable the processes/paths to the counters, the data storage, the recount process, … ?

    What election of any importance is not demonstrably more verifiable with paper (and to a lesser extent, purpose-built, proven, inspectable by a competent mechanical engineer, mechanical voting machines) ballots, where physical inspection, transportation, security, verification and recount methods are always available and verifiable by humans in front of other humans? What overriding need is there to have the answer to a months-long deliberative process settled in microseconds? My answer is “none.” – b voll

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