In a publicity release sent out on January 17 2012, Americans Elect declared the GOP presidential nomination race to be sadly all wrapped up after Iowa and New Hampshire. Americans in other states wanting to express their presidential choice would have to look to (and donate money to) Americans Elect:
Actually, two different GOP presidential candidates won the Iowa and New Hampshire contests, and events proved Americans Elect wrong just four days later when a third GOP candidate won the South Carolina primary, tossing the GOP race up for grabs.
That didn’t stop Americans Elect from trying the same line again. In a news release dated February 2, just two days after Mitt Romney won his second primary victory, Americans Elect seemed to be eager to declare him the GOP winner already so it could recast itself as the democratic alternative:
Only four states have had a chance to vote in the GOP primaries, but experts are saying the process is over. Are voters happy?
But actual democracy soon intervened again to counter the Americans Elect narrative. On February 7, voters in Colorado, Minnesota and Missouri handed election victories to Rick Santorum, not Mitt Romney. Now Mitt Romney has won the majority of delegates, Rick Santorum has won the majority of states, while Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich are continuing to campaign through the Super Tuesday primaries of March 6. By the end of that night Republican voters in 21 states will have cast their votes. In short, the GOP nomination looks to be an actual election involving large numbers of voters.
Whatever number of people have voted in the Republican presidential nomination process, it seems to not be enough to meet Americans Elect’s standards. Back in January, Americans Elect complained about “Only 369,448 Votes” in Iowa and New Hampshire. But with the addition of South Carolina, Florida, Colorado, Minnesota and Missouri, there have now been 3,022,769 votes cast.
In contrast, Americans Elect has had its own online presidential nomination ballot qualification vote going on around the clock for nine full days now. How many cumulative votes has it attracted over those 9 days, and what has the cumulative vote count in the Republican race been? Results as of this morning:
Only 6,429 votes had been cast in the Americans Elect process, just two-tenths of one percent of the participation in the Republican process. If 369,448 votes are meager, what does that make 6,429 votes? The disparity is cast in starker terms when one realizes that in the Americans Elect process, one person can vote many times. The actual number of people participating in the Americans Elect process, despite media coverage in every major TV network and newspaper, is even smaller than the number of votes.
The vote totals for particular Americans Elect contenders tell an even bleaker picture: unless Americans Elect changes its voting procedure in the middle of the voting — a highly irregular move — it doesn’t look as though anyone will qualify for the Americans Elect ballot at all. According to the rules published during the first day of the ballot qualification vote, political insiders will have to obtain 10,000 votes of support and political outsiders will have to obtain 50,000 votes of support by May 15. By that standard, with 9 days gone and 96 days left to go, only Ron Paul (with 1,372 votes of support as of this morning) is on pace to obtain 10,000 votes by May 15.
But wait, there’s more. Even Ron Paul isn’t actually on pace to get on the Americans Elect ballot, because there’s a second standard he has to meet. For reasons that aren’t immediately clear, only the first thousand votes for a candidate in a state will be counted toward the 10,000 vote total, and only the ten states with the most votes will count have their votes counted toward that 10,000 vote total. The 10,000 votes have to consist of 1,000 votes in each of 10 and only 10 states. As of now, these are the top ten states from which Ron Paul has received support in the Americans Elect vote:
California: 144 votes
Texas: 107 votes
Florida: 97 votes
New York: 73 votes
Virginia: 58 votes
Pennsylvania: 54 votes
Ohio: 48 votes
Michigan: 44 votes
Washington: 43 votes
Illinois: 42 votes
Did you notice that these are the most populous states of the United States? That’s not a coincidence; for all its talk of democracy, the Americans Elect process effectively disenfranchises small states, which with smaller populations are unlikely to scrape together 1,000 votes for anybody. It’s the big states that will either qualify or not qualify a candidate for the Americans Elect nomination. At this rate, with 9 days gone and 96 left to go, Ron Paul will only get 1,000 votes in California, Texas and Florida by May 15.
And the other Americans Elect draft candidates? Insider or outsider, they aren’t on pace to get 1,000 votes of support in any state at all.
The bottom line is that while Americans Elect corporate leaders complain about lack of participation in the Republican nomination, the Americans Elect vote is far, far less popular. To deal with its lack of support, Americans Elect will have to mount a huge publicity campaign very soon, or it will have to change the rules of its voting in the middle of its vote, or it will have to benefit from a well-funded candidate who decides to invest significant funds, or it will have to leave its ballot empty in 2012.