In a press release last week, Americans Elect decried the “low turnout” in the Republican party nomination process to date, citing it as the evidence of democracy in failure. You see, “only” 3,028,354 Americans in 9 states have voted so far in the Republican nomination process. Many more are set to vote in the weeks to come in a presidential race that is not by any means settled.
Two weeks ago today, Americans Elect started up its own presidential nomination voting process, a process in which any registered voter in any party in any state of the union can participate — not just Republicans, and not just residents of 9 states. They can vote whenever they want, too, not just on one day. This Americans Elect process has gotten coverage on ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS, CNN, FOX News, MSNBC, The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, Huffington Post, Politico, the Christian Science Monitor, the Boston Globe, the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune, the Denver Post, and the Los Angeles Times. These are just a few of many outlets where the Americans Elect process has received publicity.
So with this wide media coverage, and with this open window for voting, how many people from all parties across the 50 states have participated in the Americans Elect nomination to date?
The frustrating answer is that we don’t know, because the only piece of information Americans Elect shares is the number of votes of support obtained by a draft candidate — and in an odd methodological twist, it turns out that Americans Elect voters can vote for as many draft candidates as they like. As of this morning, when the Americans Elect effort finished its 14th day and entered into it’s 15th day, a total of 8,456 votes of support for Americans Elect draft candidates had been tallied up. That at least gives us a range of possibilities. If each Americans Elect voter voted for one and only one candidate, that makes for 8,456 people participating (only 0.28% of the participation level in the Republican primaries). If the average Americans Elect voter voted to support two candidates, that means there were 4,228 people participating (only 0.14% of the participation level in the Republican primaries). No matter how you slice it, the participation level in Americans Elect is some three orders of magnitude smaller than the participation in Republican primaries. If Americans Elect thinks levels of participation in the Republican presidential nomination is too low, it must really have a problem with its own participation levels.
Practically speaking, it’s clear that Americans Elect actually does have a problem with its participation levels: considering the rate of voting over the last two weeks, there are no Americans Elect candidates who are on pace to qualify for a space on the ballot. Under current Americans Elect rules, insider politicians must obtain 1,000 votes from each of 10 states, and outsider contenders must obtain 5,000 votes of support from each of 10 states, if they wish to appear on the final Americans Elect nomination ballot. In an additional standard, only the first 1,000 (for insiders) or 5,000 (for outsiders) votes from each of the 10 most supportive states are counted toward these totals, making it even more difficult for contenders to qualify.
But look at the biggest vote-getter, the effort to draft Ron Paul onto an Americans Elect ballot. This morning, when the Americans Elect voting period reached the two-week mark, Paul had attracted the following votes in his 10 best performing states:
New York: 88
Now, Ron Paul counts as an insider in the Americans Elect process, because he’s a long-term member of the House of Representatives in Washington, DC. In that respect, Ron Paul is lucky. The Americans Elect voting period is 13.3% done — and only in California and Texas has Ron Paul reached the needed pace of 13.3% of 1,000 votes. Ron Paul is far off-pace to make the ballot in his ten best states — and he’s the one contender who’s closest to getting on the Americans elect ballot.
If even a hundredth as many people had participated in Americans Elect nomination process so far as have participated in the Republican nomination process so far, there would be a chance for . But Americans Elect is proving even less popular than that. Despite the repeated efforts of public relations consultants, the Americans Elect nomination is just not catching fire on its own.
There was a time when Americans Elect could have won wide support by giving voters democratic control; because Americans Elect doesn’t do that, people have walked away and aren’t liable to return. Having lost confidence, there’s not much that even a well-funded corporation like Americans Elect can do at this point to bring people into the process.
Well, now that I think about it, there is one possibility, one in line with its identity as a 501c4 corporation funded by anonymous Wall Street private wealth managers. Americans Elect could pay people to vote. That could work.