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Americans Elect Fibs about the number of its Delegates again

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.

John Lumea explains Americans Elect’s factual slip-up:

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.

8 comments to Americans Elect Fibs about the number of its Delegates again

  • Anonyman

    I’m a member, but living outside the US as I do I have no Social Security number etc. and cannot become a full-fledged delegate. However, AmEl seem to be treating me as if I could, including when working out how many votes it takes to bring down a motion of the Board. Hmph.

  • Many thanks for flagging this, Jim.

  • Joshua

    You can count me among the “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 haven’t chosen to take the next step to become a delegate, because I don’t want to provide AE with my personal information, nor do I feel the need to participate in the AE nominating process. I do, however, have the ability to track candidates, which means, presumably, that if either of the candidates I have tracked reaches the AE primary, AE will send me an e-mail.

    Since nobody is on a pace to qualify for the AE primary, though, I’m not holding my breath.

    Regarding Anonyman’s comment above, the AE rules provide that it takes 10,000 delegates to request a reversal vote of the board’s decision. That’s a flat number, regardless of whether there are even as many as 10,000 delegates. Furthermore, if a decision did somehow manage to get to a reversal vote, it would take “a majority of all registered Delegates” to reverse the decision. So people like me, Anonyman, and the other 384,000 of us don’t count for this process (as we shouldn’t); it would “only” take the majority of the registered delegates to overturn the vote.

  • Jim — FYI, I’ve updated and expanded the piece to include and incorporate relevant passages from the corporate Rules and By-Laws, as well as links to these documents.

  • Bill

    Congrats to John for calling this out, and to Jim for further publicizing it. I have only one small bone to pick with this article. A “fib” is a minor untruth of no real significance. A major untruth of real significance is a “lie.” Americans Elect Corporation didn’t “fib” in its press release. It lied. Again.

  • Debbie

    Count me as one who signed up with the Americans Elect site, but never nominated or voted for a candidate. I guess I was feeling generous with my personal information on that day, and now I regret it. I have been told that it could possibly hurt my chances of becoming a real delegate for one of the major parties.

    As it is, they have personal information about me, which, in the wrong hands, could result in identity theft. If I continue to use the site, they will learn more about my political preferences—what issues are important to me, where I stand on them, and who I would be likely to vote for in the actual election. Now I am wondering about the true motives of this organization. Do they really intend to help the voters choose a president, or are they just collecting information on registered voters to somehow spoil the election? Could some unscrupulous person there somehow use the information from their registered delegates to, say, send in an absentee ballot in the name of someone they knew supported a candidate they did not like? Call me paranoid, but I have to wonder.

  • Steven

    I’m pretty sure this is preaching to the choir…but…
    1. By requiring 1000×10, 40 states are being disenfranchised. Hailing from the Sunflower State, I’m screwed.
    2. Based on the latest chart (the 4/7), AE has gotten 12,404 qualifying votes from 400,000 *users*. Given that the top ten states in the country total 54% of the population, this translates into 0.046 votes/user (compensating for the other 40 states in the union and DC). Assuming each voting delegate only votes once (HA!), that mean’s there’s not more than 23,000 voters.
    121,500 voted in Iowa. 248,500 voted in NH.
    3. These guys are now on the ballot in 20 states? Ug.

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