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Americans Elect Press Secretary: Y’all Haven’t Read the Rules and Bylaws I Can’t Keep Straight

In 4 months and 3 days, Americans Elect will hold its first vote in the nation’s first-ever corporate privatized online-only presidential nomination.

In a press release dated yesterday, Americans Elect Press Secretary Ileana Wachtel chastised two of Barack Obama senior campaign staffers for the sin of criticizing Americans Elect as a “board of censors to decide who’s worthy of being nominated or not” and “backroom bosses”. Wachtel accused David Axelrod and Jim Messina of ignorance and gave them a reading assignment:

Like the millions of Americans who have already come to AmericansElect.org, we invite Mr. Axelrod and Mr. Messina to read the rules and bylaws of Americans Elect.

There are two little problems you might notice if you follow that link. First, it’s an outdated version of the bylaws of Americans Elect, a version last amended on July 1, 2011. There’s a more recent version passed by the Americans Elect corporate board of directors on November 18 2011, the full text of which you can search and read here. If you (and this means you, Messrs. Axelrod and Messina) would like to read the pdf original, you can’t read it on the Americans Elect website, because Americans Elect hasn’t shared it with the public. Fortunately, you can find the bylaws quietly filed with the state of Florida as part of a package of legal statements (see the link dated November 22nd). It may not be Ms. Wachtel’s fault that she referred Axelrod and Messina to an outdated document; Americans Elect corporate leaders may not have shared the new document with her, just as they haven’t shared the new document with the public on their website.

Also in that same package of legal statements quietly filed with the state of Florida are the Draft Rules for the Americans Elect voting process (see page 27 on the November 22 document for the rules). In her suggestion that Axelrod and Messina read the rules, Wachtel didn’t actually link to the Draft Rules document, which in any case is not final but still, despite the looming date of Americans Elect’s first vote, “pending.”

Like the dozens of Americans who have been paying attention more than Americans Elect’s own Press Secretary, I invite Ms. Wachtel to read the draft rules and the actual bylaws in effect. She’ll discover what Alec MacGillis of the New Republic recently did:

Well, I checked the by-laws, and they do in fact make it sound like there will be some sort of screening process by the “Candidate Certification Committee,” which “shall be responsible for certifying that candidates and draftees for the offices and president and vice president meet all constitutional eligibility, as well as to develop and apply criteria of demonstrated achievements based on qualifications of past presidents and vice presidents to ensure that only persons capable of performing the duties of president and vice president are eligible for voting by the registered Delegates, subject only to a two thirds vote to the contrary by all registered Delegates in accordance with Section 5.6.”

Hmm…”demonstrated achievements based on qualification of past presidents and vice presidents?” Like, say, being a poor-spelling back-bench congressman or the recent former mayor of a town of 6,000 people?

6 comments to Americans Elect Press Secretary: Y’all Haven’t Read the Rules and Bylaws I Can’t Keep Straight

  • Juniper

    How does confining the character of an Americans Elect presidential candidate to the characteristics of past presidents help to create change in the American political system?

    If all that Americans Elect will deliver is a President who is like past presidents, then what’s the point? Why not just keep the same old mechanisms, if the outcome will be the same?

    Oh, wait. I know the difference. The difference is that the power brokers of Americans Elect will be in control. Isn’t that what Americans Elect is really all about?

  • Patricia

    This is much ado about nothing. Of course there is a Candidate Certification Committee. Perhaps you missed it, but we have just endured 3 years of incessant questions about whether the current President of the US was eligible to be elected president under the Constitution. Since the birth certificate issue has been laid to rest for all but a few people, the latest controversy is whether his academic qualifications are as he has stated. We have also been treated to the spectacle of the Alvin Greene senate candidacy in South Carolina. Should someone in the Democratic Party not have screened Greene’s qualifications and made them known to party members?

    I would not hire a bicycle courier for my company without vetting the courier to ensure that all information he/she provided about his/her qualifications were truthful. What responsible company doesn’t confirm a job applicant’s education and work experience prior to hire? Why would any organization that is putting forth a candidate for president not exercise these minimal precautions?

    In attempting to make the Certification Committee appear to be something sinister, you fail to mention Section 5.6 of the bylaws. You know, the section that states that decisions of the Certification Committee can be over-ridden by 2/3 of the delegates.

    Do you seriously think that if the Certification Committee arbitrarily prevents individuals from becoming a candidate that delegates who are putting time and energy into the AE process will sit idly by? If so, you apparently have far less faith in the democratic process than the organization you are criticizing.

    • Patricia, I’ve mentioned that repeatedly. (see here)

      It’s 2/3 of all people who have ever registered as delegates. That means 2/3 of all people who’ve signed up as delegates have to return to the website and vote and vote in the same direction. That, as Americans Elect knows if it has any historians in its stable, is never going to happen. There hasn’t been a single national election in America the 20th or 21st Century in which 2/3 of registered voters have ever turned out to vote. Look it up: it’s never happened. It never will. I have faith in democracy when it’s not rigged.

      Speaking of leaving out, Patricia, you’ve left out the part of the bylaws and rules that allows the committee to nullify tickets, just yank them out of consideration, if they don’t suit Americans Elect’s ideological requirements.

  • Lee Mortimer

    Seems like the bigger story here, by far, is that two top figures in Barack Obama’s re-election campaign are taking time away from attacking Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich to also attack Americans Elect. It’s quite a tribute to the impact AE is already having 10.5 months ahead of next year’s election.

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