Americans Elect, a corporation that is trying to run and count the votes in the nation’s first-ever online-only presidential nomination, issued a press release on March 14 2012 in which it claimed to have 400,000 delegates:
Americans Elect delegates, which now total more than 400,000 and counting, can draft and support a presidential candidate of their choice and nominate a presidential ticket that will appear on general election ballots nationwide this November.
John Lumea has unpacked this story and reveals that, according to his evidence, the number of actual delegates in Americans Elect “is not even close to that number.”
Recall that according to the Americans Elect Rules, there are two levels of participation. There are members, people who have signed up for online accounts with their e-mail address. Then there are delegates, people who have surrendered their full name, address, date of birth and part of their social security number, people who have agreed to have their identity investigated by Americans Elect, and people who pledge to support the mission of Americans Elect. These, and only these, are actually delegates with the privilege of drafting, voting in support of and ultimately nominating a candidate.
The first two of these steps — providing a genuine email address and choosing a “strong” PIN — are like registering at many Web sites today.
After completing only these first two steps, Americans Elect provided me with my own “account” and a user number — 369310 — which, you’ll notice, is very close to the “400,000” of the press release….
HERE’S where it gets interesting.
If you go to AmericansElect.org, you’ll see on the home page a list of the “Most Supported” declared and draft candidates.
The number beneath each candidate’s name corresponds to what Americans Elect calls “support clicks.” These clicks can be provided only by identity-verified delegates….
If you drill down to the 20 or so “most supported” candidates — whether “declared” or “draft” — you’ll see that there has been a total of only about 16,000 clicks of “support” from delegates….
That number would correspond to 16,000 unique delegates, if each of these delegates clicked “support” for only one candidate. But delegates are allowed to “support” as many different candidates as they like — so the total number of these delegates that have engaged so far probably is significantly less. If each of these active delegates clicked “support” for two different candidates, there would be 8,000 delegates engaging with the Americans Elect process. If each was giving a “support click” to three candidates, the total number of engaged delegates would drop to a little more than 5,000.
BUT LET’S be generous. Let’s assume that there are fully 16,000 Americans Elect delegates engaging with the corporation’s process.
Does this mean that Americans Elect has the 400,000 delegates that it claims — but that 384,000 of them are sitting on the sidelines right now?
Or does it mean that are there (at most) 16,000 active Americans Elect delegates (and maybe a few more inactive ones) — along with an additional 384,000-plus well-meaning citizens who went to the Americans Elect Web site and registered for an account, with nothing more than an email address and a PIN number, but never got any further than that and never qualified as delegates?
I’m guessing the latter. But, either way, it appears that Americans Elect is suffering from a very wide enthusiasm gap.
Sign up for a regular member account today and see what member number you get. Is it something around 400,000? Then practicality tells you that the number of actual delegates must be much smaller than that — much smaller than 400,000.
Americans Elect’s 400,000-delegate claim just doesn’t add up — and this from the corporation has put itself in charge of counting its own votes.
Thanks, John, for pointing out this issue.