In the campaign literature Americans Elect originally used to disseminate information about its first-ever privatized online presidential nominating election, a date of November 6 was set as the starting time when candidates and draft campaigns could begin signing up followers on the americanselect.org website. That date came and went as Americans Elect dropped the date for reasons that are not publicly known. Two months and 8 days later, there still is no feature allowing candidates and draft committees to sign up followers. At the Americans Elect Candidates page, this feature is still listed as pending — “Coming Soon” and “very soon”– as it has been listed for months.
In just over three months — 94 days from now — Americans Elect will hold its first ballot. Between 94 days from now and the day in the future that Americans Elect bothers to roll out its web features for candidates and draft committees, those candidates and draft committees will need to gather tens of thousands of “clicks” of official support according to the Americans Elect rules: 10,000 clicks of support across ten different states if you’re already an inside power player or a leader of a corporation, and 50,000 clicks of support across ten different states if you’re an outsider or (not kidding, look it up) a leader of a moderate-sized union, leading the same number of people or even more people than a CEO of a moderate-sized corporation leads, a CEO who qualifies under the easier 10,000 standard.
These thresholds are significant considering the current small scale of interest in Americans Elect. Even internet phenomenon Ron Paul has fewer than 8,000 people unofficially tracking him (not officially supporting through a “click”) on the Americans Elect system, and he is the most-tracked politician on the Americans Elect website. To get 50,000 clicks of support, a candidate will have to engage in a significant outlay of effort, reaching out beyond the small set of people engaged in the Americans Elect website. Without large amounts of money, a grassroots campaign to spread the word and attract followers could succeed — but such efforts take time, and there’s very little time left before the first ballot. With every day that passes in which Americans Elect delays the rollout of its campaign system, the scales will be tipped ever more heavily to a wealthy self-funded candidate, or to a candidate who is backed by big money. The practical feasibility of an actual grassroots candidacy grows ever more remote.