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Americans Elect Invents New Restriction for Delegates that’s Not in its Rules or Bylaws. Time for Delegates to Voice Formal Dissent.

Americans Elect is a 501c4 corporation that doesn’t disclose the sources of its funding, that wants to run the nation’s first-ever privatized online presidential nomination, and that wants to bump aside impartial boards of election to count its own votes. Americans Elect has a set of official rules (most recent version here) and corporate bylaws (most recent version here) that use words of democracy but that harshly restrict the participation of its grassroots delegates and instead hand most decisions over to a self-appointed corporate board.

Thanks to Bill Busa for pointing out to me that yesterday — February 29, 2012 — Americans Elect took another step away from democracy in its presidential nomination, another step toward arbitrary corporate control. It posted a set of decisions made by its corporate board and shut down all possibility for its own delegates to dissent from them — in direct violation of its own bylaws and rules.

Here is a screen capture, in case (as often happens with Americans Elect) they try to alter the appearance of what they’ve done.

Americans Elect Screen Capture of ALL Decisions of the Board, February 29 2012

The text reads:

All DECISIONS OF THE BOARD are posted here. Any non-unanimous decision may be overruled, if a majority of delegates oppose it within seven days of its posting.

CHANGES TO THE PRE-ELECTION CONVENTION RULES POSTED FEB 29, 2012
The Board of Directors on 19 December 2011 voted to post the Proposed Amendments to the Pre-election Convention Rules to the website for Delegate review.

THIS DECISION HAS BEEN ADOPTED
[Roll-over text overlaid on question mark graphic:] This decision was unanimously approved by the Board and is not subject to delegate review.

CHANGES TO THE PRE-ELECTION CONVENTION RULES PROPOSED FEB 29, 2012
The Rules Committee on 8 December 2011 voted to adopt the Proposed Amendments to the Pre-Election Convention Rules.

THIS DECISION HAS BEEN ADOPTED
[Roll-over text overlaid on question mark graphic:] This decision was unanimously approved by the Board and is not subject to delegate review.

CHANGES TO THE BYLAWS POSTED FEB 29, 2012
The Board of Directors on 19 December 2011 voted to post the proposed changes to the Bylaws to the website for Delegate Review.

THIS DECISION HAS BEEN ADOPTED
[Roll-over text overlaid on question mark graphic:] This decision was unanimously approved by the Board and is not subject to delegate review.

CHANGES TO THE BYLAWS PROPOSED FEB 29, 2012
The Rules Committee on 19 December 2011 voted to adopt the proposed changes to the Bylaws.

THIS DECISION HAS BEEN ADOPTED
[Roll-over text overlaid on question mark graphic:] This decision was unanimously approved by the Board and is not subject to delegate review.

Pay close attention the claim made by Americans Elect regarding its governing structure; it is telling the American people and its delegates (not asking them) how things are going to be, and it declares this to be the standard:

Any non-unanimous decision may be overruled, if a majority of delegates oppose it within seven days of its posting.

Now notice the following five things things about the Americans Elect website:

1. All of the decisions made by the Americans Elect board are unanimous, practically rendering the possibility of delegate opposition moot according to the standard articulated in that Americans Elect announcement.

2. Although the above words mention the formal possibility of delegate organization in dissent, there is not a single page on the AmericansElect.org website on which delegates actually have the capability of communicating with one another or registering any sort of formal objection to the board. There isn’t even a page that lists delegates by name, by pseudonym or by number. Although Americans Elect communicates as if it were possible, majority opposition by the set of registered and verified Americans Elect delegates is literally impossible to accomplish on the americanselect.org website. Go try to find such a place for the delegates to formally dissent on the website. As of March 1, 2012, no such capability exists.

3. There is no provision in the Americans Elect rules or bylaws declaring (either literally or in paraphrase) that “Any non-unanimous decision may be overruled, if a majority of delegates oppose it within seven days of its posting.”

Let’s make this absolutely clear. Search the latest version of the bylaws for any reference to any word with the root “unanimous” — unanimity, unanimous, non-unanimous, and so on. You’ll find only one reference: declaring that when members of the Americans Elect Corporate Board of Directors all sign a document, it “shall have the same force and effect as a unanimous vote.” (Rule 4.10.1)

Now search the latest version of the rules for any reference to any word with the root “unanimous” — unanimity, unanimous, non-unanimous. You’ll only find two references, Rule 2.2.1.2 and Rule 3.2.1.2, which are specifically about overruling board decisions about the qualification of candidates for the ballot, not about board decisions about the rules and bylaws and things like that.

4. On the contrary, Bylaw 5.6 declares that:

Section 5.6 Committee Override by Delegate Vote. Any decision of the Platform of Questions Committee or the Candidate Certification Committee shall be nullified by a majority vote of all registered Delegates…

And more importantly, Rule 12.2 declares that:

12.2 Reversal Votes. Unless otherwise expressly provided, any Delegate who wishes to reverse any decision of any Committee or Board may do so by sending a statement of 500 words or less by email to the Board within 72 hours after notice of any decision is posted on the Website. The Board shall then post the statement on the Website with instructions that any Delegate who agrees with reversal shall “Support Click” the statement. If 10,000 or more Delegates Support Click the statement within 48 hours after its posting, the Board shall give three days’ notice to all Delegates of a reversal vote and post a statement of no more than 500 words in support of the decision and the statement in opposition to the decision on the Website after such notice. If a majority of all registered Delegates vote in favor of reversal, the decision shall be reversed and the Committee or Board shall make a different decision. This process of Reversal Votes shall be the sole and exclusive remedy for any Delegate aggrieved by any action, conduct, or failure to act of Americans Elect.

Any decision. Of any committee or board.

5. This web page says that it is a record of ALL decisions made by the Board, so we know that, unless Americans Elect is lying to us on this point, the Board has not come up with a new version of the rules or bylaws.

In conclusion,

1. Americans Elect is Directly Ignoring its Own Rules and Bylaws.

2. Americans Elect is Directly Violating the Rights of Americans Elect Delegates.

3. The Direction of These Actions is in the Direction of Squelching Dissent.

It’s time for delegates to assert their rights as specified in the bylaws and rules. It is time for us to formally lodge our dissent. And if Americans Elect refuses to abide by its own formal rules in this regard, then it takes its place formally as an sham.

I am a delegate. And tomorrow, I will be acting within the rule-specified 72-hour period to lodge a formal statement of opposition to these abrogations of my delegate rights in the nomination of a candidate to be President of the United States, the most powerful person in the world.

If you are a delegate, will you join me?

16 comments to Americans Elect Invents New Restriction for Delegates that’s Not in its Rules or Bylaws. Time for Delegates to Voice Formal Dissent.

  • Bill

    I’m your huckleberry….

  • Derek

    I am also a delegate, and would like to sign in support of your letter of dissent, if possible.

  • John Lumea

    &^%&^%*&^%!!!!!

    I’d seen the new Board Decisions feature but not the slippery scrollovers about unanimous decisions not being subject to delegate review.

    The truth is, AE may already have made itself a sham — in part, by making becoming a delegate as easy as liking a Facebook page.

    AE makes becoming a delegate easy as pie — click, click, click — but it also knows full well that, absent a “star” declared candidate, most new delegates aren’t going to stay engaged but, rather, are going to poke around the site for a few days and wander off.

    But those wanderers still are going to be “delegates” — and those big delegate numbers are what AE seems to rely on to perpetuate this sham democracy.

    As was reported here at Irregular Times, it was just two weeks ago that AE delegates had registered less than 8,500 total clicks of support for potential candidates. Given that delegates can register support for multiple candidates, that means that there were, at most, 8,500 engaged delegates.There may have been far less.

    But, as of a month ago, AE was reporting 360,000 total delegates.

    Do the math. As of a few weeks ago, the maximum of 8.500 engaged delegates represented barely more than 2% of the total of 360,000 registered delegates.

    And, yet, it is this “360,000” number that AE has in mind, when it says that a board decision — assuming that the decision is not unanimous, which it appears that virtually all board decisions are — can be overturned only by a “majority” of delegates.

    That number — 180,000 — would be, at the very least, more than 20 times the number of the maximum of 8.500 delegates who were engaged only a few weeks ago.

    Americans Elect mandates that this 170,000+ delegates who aren’t paying attention voice any objections within 48 to 72 hours.

    And — to top it all off — AE doesn’t bother to provide delegates with an email notification of the Board’s actions. At least, this is one delegate who has never received a single email from Americans Elect.

    Tragedy or farce?

    • I don’t think it’s quite that bad, mostly because Americans Elect was being deceptive in its public relations about how many actual delegates it had.

      What it was referring in its public relations blitz as hundreds of thousands of delegates was actually the number of people who had signed up for a membership account at americanselect.org. But signing up for a membership account doesn’t make you a delegate. To become a delegate, you have to:

      1. Provide personal information about yourself, including the last four digits of your social security number and your birthdate (a bit creepy considering how that information can be used).

      2. Consent to allow Americans Elect to investigate you to determine whether you’re actually registered to vote in the United States.

      Once you’ve gone through those two steps, you become a delegate.

      My guess is that there are at maximum 10,000 actual Americans Elect delegates, a number Americans Elect should find worrisome considering how many hundreds of major media mentions it has garnered over the last six months. People just aren’t that into Americans Elect, at least when it requires the commitment to become a delegate.

      But your larger point is absolutely valid. We can see just how liable a majority of delegates is to show up and vote when we look at the Americans Elect candidates page, where the top vote-getter for ballot access right now, Ron Paul, has nabbed only a bit more than 3,000 votes. And that’s a candidate vote, not a procedural vote. And that’s after a MONTH. And that’s with Ron Paul’s organized ballot-stuffing operation.

      There’s no really feasible way that a majority of registered and verified delegates are going to show up to vote either up or down on any procedural motion.

      But I’m testing at even a lower level: will Americans Elect even allow the formal objections I’m planning to send tomorrow to be posted on their website, as the RULES REQUIRE them to do?

  • Jim Cook is a very valuable reporter!

  • Ralph

    I followed the link to the AE page where they say board decisions have been made. Does this page either say what those changes are, link to them, or refer to them? It just looks like a list of dates, saying a “change” was made on such-and-such a date, without any reference to the substance of that change. Am I missing something?

    • Ralph, you’re right; the AE page does not even link to the substance of the decisions. To find those, you have to click the “Official Documents” tab at the top of the page, and then sift through the 4 pages under “download documents.”

    • Bill

      Ralph, don’t you worry your pretty little head none about that. The Board has everything under control.

  • José

    I’m interested in seeing if you get a response. More likely, they haven’t even considered the prospect that someone would disagree with them, haven’t coded a page to do so, won’t field the dissent page for another month — and in the end, they’ll just pretend those rules don’t exist. Not that it’ll matter — the notion of 10,000 verified Delegates engaging with the site over a 48-hour period is genuinely laughable at this point. But I’m with you in this fight, Jim.

    I recently spoke to someone who met Eliot Ackerman, and who knew people who rolled in the same circles. The impression she had is that this is his little endeavor, all the stuff about direct democracy is just fluff and marketing, and everyone around him knows it. If that’s the case, it’s too bad for the 300,000+ (though by a more accurate measure of involvement, fewer than 10,000) who are being suckered into this.

  • Brad R.

    Great article. I started off excited about Americans Elect and even signed up to be a volunteer. The main person I had to contact with AE (he called himself a Regional Director) was actually really great. He was passionate and helped me learn about the organization. I had my doubts – a lot of them because of this site – but he listened to those and even if I wasn’t totally sold I thought their intentions were good and they were fighting the good fight. Then I dealt with the press team who were total flakes and treated me like I was their servant. I watched my contact there continually get frustrated because the little questions I and others would ask just wouldn’t be answered by the AE team. He always tried to help and was positive but I really got the sense there was a lot of tension between the headquarters and all of the other people trying to get involved. This article pretty much confirms that. They seem to think that this is for them and that the little people better just like it. Oh well, it will fade into irrelevance I guess….

  • Bill

    AECorp’s flaccid impotence, which it has brought upon itself by insistently ignoring and marginalizing its members, is nicely illustrated by the David Walker Fail. About two weeks ago, when we started to witness a major AE-coordinated thrust to promote the the candidacy of David Walker (as in, “David Walker who?“), Walker had just 84 votes of support on the Official Corporate Website. Today, he has…(drumroll, please)…134 votes! WOO-HOO! David’s goin’ tuh Disneyland!. One hundred and thirty-four votes out of a (we are led to believe) possible 380,000. That’s some bang for the buck Dear Leader Peter Ackerman and his clubhouse chums have bought with their millions in secret donations.

  • Tom

    i see this FARCE is finally being realized by delegates who have at least given AE a shot. It’s a shame we can’t get a fair shake from the power brokers in this country and that they are so self-serving that they don’t see their own demise in the way they’re carrying on. Politics is completely corrupted now. If a third party candidate can win this year’s election (a very long shot), we’d have a chance of getting America back to the rule of law, but don’t get your hopes up (we tried that, remember?) – since the rule of law has been shelved also.

  • Jody

    I would support your letter of dissent. How can I help?

    • Jody, thanks for writing. Unfortunately, Americans Elect has quashed mechanisms of dissent formally, which leaves you no effective way to dissent from the Americans Elect Corporate Board of Directors. This means that if you’d like to voice dissent, you’ll have to do so outside of the Americans Elect system. Please consider writing a letter to the editor of your local paper or using what social networks you have to spread the word about Americans Elect’s anti-democratic activities.

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