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Americans Elect: Fact Check of Kahlil Byrd’s May 15 Statement Presaging a Rule Change

After the failure of any Americans Elect candidate to meet has released a statement of one of its founding officers, Kahlil Byrd. The statement follows, interrupted in another font with annotated fact checking. Links labeled “source” will direct you to sources supporting the conclusions of the fact check.


Statement by Americans Elect CEO Kahlil Byrd

Over the past two years, Americans Elect has focused on achieving three clear goals:

Gaining nationwide ballot access for a third presidential ticket to compete in the 2012 race;
Holding the first ever nonpartisan secure national online primary at AmericansElect.org; and
Fielding a credible, balanced, unaffiliated ticket for the 2012 presidential race.
Through the efforts of thousands of staffers, volunteers, and leadership, Americans Elect has achieved every stated operational goal.



Fact Check

Americans Elect has not yet "gained nationwide ballot access." The latest news release by Americans Elect on the subject, just a few days ago, declares that Americans Elect has ballot access in 27 states (source). Ballot access was gained through paid signature gatherers (source), not a grassroots wave of supporters.

Americans Elect also has not "fielded a credible, balanced, unaffiliated ticket for the 2012 presidential race." That is why Kahlil Byrd released this statement. Three Americans Elect ballots have gone empty because no candidate has reached the required 1,000 votes of support in each 10 states for political insiders and 5,000 votes of support in each of 10 states for political outsiders (source | source). The closest any candidate came to reaching either of those standards was Ron Paul, who as of 5:00 this morning had obtained 48.9% of the required votes after months as a draft candidate (source).


Statement by Americans Elect CEO Kahlil Byrd, Continued

Despite these efforts, as of today, no candidate has reached the national support threshold required to enter the “Americans Elect Online Convention” this June. (Read a detailed summary of the AE process here and the full rules here.)

Because of this, under the rules that AE delegates ratified, the primary process would end today. There is, however, an almost universal desire among delegates, leadership and millions of Americans who have supported AE to see a credible candidate emerge from this process.



Fact Check

Kahlil Byrd cannot credibly state that "there is, however, an almost universal desire among delegates, leadership and millions of Americans who have supported AE to see a credible candidate emerge from this process." There are multiple reasons to believe this is untrue.

Kahlil Byrd declares that there are "millions of Americans who have supported AE" who want to "see a credible candidate emerge from this process." If this were true, then there would be millions of Americans who acted to see a credible candidate emerge from the process by casting votes to put candidates on the Americans Elect ballot. There have not been millions of Americans casting vote in the Americans Elect process. The top ten declared candidates, put together, have only received 14,399 votes expressing support for their placement on an Americans Elect ballot (source) -- and as Americans Elect points out in a recent e-mail, a single person can cast "as many [votes] as you like now" (source).

Americans Elect has a record of hyperinflating its claims of support, a reason to disregard Byrd's claim here. Americans Elect has repeatedly claimed it has "400,000 delegates" (source | source | source), but in the Americans Elect system delegates are not merely those who have visited a website or liked Americans Elect on Facebook. According to the official Americans Elect Bylaws, delegates are those who have signed up for an account on the website, then agreed to become delegates, and then had their identity and voter registration successfully verified (source). John Lumea has written a careful accounting of the Americans Elect delegate system, showing that Americans Elect could not possibly have had 400,000 delegates when it claimed it did (source). What Americans Elect actually has is 466,000 Facebook Fans (source). This is hyperbole on the part of Americans Elect.

Another reason I know that Kahlil Byrd is not making an accurate claim is that I am an Americans Elect delegate. As an Americans Elect delegate, I have received a number of Americans Elect mailings every week asking me in increasing desperation to participate in the ballot access vote that just expired. I have received not a single in-person solicitation, mail, text message, phone call or communication of any kind asking me what I "desire" to "emerge from this process." Are you an Americans Elect delegate? Have you received any inquiry from Americans Elect asking you what you would like to see "emerge from this process?" Let me know in the comments section to this post. Kahlil Byrd cannot possibly know what the "almost universal desire among delegates" is unless he's assessed it. There's no evidence he has.

In evidence to the contrary, four days ago Roger Ryan made a motion and put advertisements up around the Internet asking people to second his motion to shelve the current official Americans Elect rules and let candidates on the Americans Elect ballot anyway. Fewer than 25 people have seconded Roger Ryan's motion (source). If there really are "400,000 delegates" as Americans Elect dubiously claims, that's an awfully low level of support -- about the opposite of "universal."


Statement by Americans Elect CEO Kahlil Byrd, Continued

Every step of the way, AE has conferred with its community before making major decisions. We will do the same this week before determining next steps for the immediate future. AE will announce the results of these conversations on Thursday, May 17.

As always, we thank everyone who has participated in this effort and will honor the work, efforts and trust so many people have placed in Americans Elect.



Fact Check

Americans Elect has not "conferred with its community before making major decisions." On the contrary, it has repeatedly refused to communicate with its own delegates. After creating a "Get Satisfaction" portal on which it said it would answer questions, it has simply refused to answer the large majority of them (source | source | source | source). There is no feature on the Americans Elect website allowing delegates to comment to Americans Elect's blog posts (source). When it hosts "chats," it tends to only take supportive questions, ignoring critical questions (source). Although Americans Elect nominally has a process in its Official Rules that allows delegates to reverse decisions of its corporate board through a majority vote of all delegates, it gives delegates only 48 hours to respond refuses to tell delegates that a vote is occurring, which means that it is impossible for delegates to mount an actual reversal (source | source). Americans Elect simply informs its delegates of its decisions after they have been made by its corporate board (source).

To be fair, perhaps Kahlil Byrd's statement about "Americans Elect conferring with its community" is accurate if by "community" Byrd means to include its large money donors and corporate board, but not its delegates. But if this is true, then Americans Elect needs to stop referring to itself as a "grassroots movement" (source).

24 comments to Americans Elect: Fact Check of Kahlil Byrd’s May 15 Statement Presaging a Rule Change

  • t ball

    Americans Elect has done one good thing for me, personally. Last year I was searching for more info about this suspicious group (after they would not answer my questions about being more open regarding their fundraising). My search led me to several posts on this blog, and I’ve been reading daily ever since.

    At this point I don’t expect anything to come of Americans Elect, except maybe another entity with a different name as they try again next election cycle.

    • t ball, that’s very nice of you to say.

      Are you a delegate? Before Kahlil Byrd issued his statement, did he or anyone else at Americans Elect contact you to ask what you’d like to have done should no candidate qualify for the primary ballot?

      • t ball

        No one there ever contacted me, though some of the other “delegates” chimed in to 2nd my question on their forum. I stopped even visiting their site months ago, long before this latest round of qualifying ever started.

        Even before I came here I got the sense that this was just a sham — either an effort to dupe progressives to leave the Dem. party so that the GOP could steal the election or some sort of attempt to broker the election or sway the results within the GOP or just keep the conversation on their favored topics.

  • Ackermans Frere et Fille photographed slinking from AECorp’s penthouse tower this morning: exclusive photo

  • http://www.independentpoliticalreport.com/2012/05/what-next-for-americans-elect/

    And, from the petition grapevine (numerous anonymous sources):

    None of the petitioners I have been in touch with have heard of AE starting petition drives in several states that were expected to start by now, including Illinois, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Kentucky and Virginia, among others. I have not heard of ongoing AE drives shutting down, however.

    As best I can determine, the announcement on May 17 will come first and news of what will happen with AE ballot access efforts will follow. Unless those planned drives are suspended, they may pay a higher rate than has been the case up to now, because deadlines are approaching in many states without the drives having even begun and because many petitioners are working on initiatives. Additionally, some of the states where AE would need to petition have residency requirements and/or prohibitions on carrying (or getting voters to sign) petitions for more than one party.

    If anyone has additional information please post it in the comments, and stay tuned for updates.

    Anyone have info to confirm or deny this?

  • Jerry Thomas

    As a delegate, I concur with Tom’s post. It is very disappointing that AE has done so little to involve its delegates or keep them informed. Has anyone seen an email that explains how AE used the ‘Shape the Debate’ questions (or how they did not use them)? Has anyone received an email that itemize the 15 questions submitted to the candidates? Has anyone received an email promoting the responses of the declared candidates to these questions? Has anyone received an email that promotes the AE Town Hall website? the AE Volunteers website? I’ve checked the AE website and if any of the above have been done there, I didn’t find them. I’ll go and recheck now!

    Jerry

    • Yep, Ackerman Selects has made it crystal clear from Day One that it couldn’t care less what delegates think, want, know, don’t know, do or don’t do, just as long as they keep on clicking. This was, in large measure, the seed of its failure: incredible hubris and an Olympian distance from its base. Nothing could possibly say more clearly that this was Ackerman’s game, designed to yield Ackerman’s preferred result, and the rest of us, delegates and candidates alike, were merely stage props in Pete Ackerman’s democracy theater.

      The most offensive thing about this was how insulting it was. Ackerman Selects treated its delegates like idiots, seemingly confident that we would never notice, because we’re too damn dumb.

    • Please keep in mind that I created those http://aevolunteers.com and http://aetownhall.com as a volunteer. I offered to do that work for AE on their main site, but was refused the ability to do so, and was shut down shortly after I finished putting together a “super choose day” promotion, after being asked by the regional directors to do so on a 2 day turnaround while I was flying cross country to see my wifes family.

  • Jim Cook’s analysis here is FABULOSO! His finest critique of AE yet. (Wish I had said that!) I also agree w/ Jerry, but I’m struggling w/ AE T’s reply there. I.e., I agree w/ it, but I don’t want to! I’ve done a lot of volunteer work for AE, but I flunked the verification process, so I can’t click. I don’t know if I’m a real delegate or not.

    Despite all of this, AE has put out there for anyone to use a $30M+ asset. I think we should start working on how to capture it in some of the states for 2014.

    Bill Kelleher
    Twitter: wjkno1

    PS
    Tiny clarification – delegates can click in support of as many candidates as they want, but only one click per candidate.

    • Dave K

      No offense, but aren’t you the guy relentlessly promoting the wonders of AE style internet voting all over the web? And now YOU have failed to get verified by the unbelievably unreliable, technically disastrous, total and complete clusterf**k that is the AE internet voting system? It disenfranchised YOU? Well well, I guess maybe that interweb thing needs a little more work before we start electing our presidents via mysterious online corporations.

      I’d continue to rub it in but you do admit you were disenfranchised, and somehow have even kept a sense of humor about it.

      • Couldn’t have said it better ourselves, Dave. But in his defense, Dr. K seems a good-hearted sort, just confused. He confuses means with ends, thinking that what is important is internet voting, and that what may be sacrificed toward that end is free, fair and transparent participatory democracy.

  • Thanks, Jim.

    What an utter fail of a statement, coming from someone whose professional wheelhouse is supposed to be communications!

    Did any of the PR consultants in the Americans Elect stable — McKinnon? Schoen? — weigh in on this statement? If director and “Chief Communications Officer” Sarah Malm had anything to do with this, she should be fired for this act alone.

    I’m struck by Byrd’s claim that one of the “clear goals” on which “Americans Elect has focused” is “fielding a credible, balanced, unaffiliated ticket.”

    “Unaffiliated” is pretty hard to swallow — actually, I’m gagging — given the Rule 8.0 mandate that only “a ticket with two persons consisting of a Democrat and a Republican shall be deemed to be balanced.”

  • Nobody Asked Me...But,

    I may have said it here before, but it is worth saying it again:

    Americans Elect is a defective concept. They expected to attract a stellar politician who would win millions of disaffected voters. Instead, they attracted only political failures or unknowns who obtained fewer votes than a small town city council candidate. Why would they expect anything different?

    All stellar politicians today are either Republicans or Democrats. A stellar politician who would attract millions of voters would know that it is politically impossible to win the presidency as a third party candidate. The most a third party candidate could do would be to act as a spoiler, splitting the vote of his own party, Republican or Democrat, so the other party’s candidate would win. No stellar politician would want to be the cause of that “treachery” to his party compatriots.

    If, by some miracle the AE candidate won, how could he/she ever accomplish anything as president? He would have no AE members in Congress to work with him. Every member of Congress would be in the opposition party, with his former party members hating him the most. There would be more gridlock than there is now as every member of Congress would want the AE president to fail, to prove that the whole AE idea does not work.

    AE should have started first at winning seats in state offices and Congress, before aiming at the presidency. No athlete tries his first race at the Olympics. Why did the AE donors think they could start first at the highest political office?

    The only reason Buddy Roemer is seeking the nomination is that he has had a failed political career and could never expect to be elected to anything again. To learn the truth about him, go to the following web page and then scroll down to the comment of “Say Amen.” Read the citations that have been assembled there. They are excellent sources of information about Buddy Roemer, written by independent, objective, and reliable journalists and historians.
    http://www.independentpoliticalreport.com/2012/04/buddy-roemer-says-he-has-list-of-23-vice-presidential-possibilities/

    • Paulie

      ” A stellar politician who would attract millions of voters would know that it is politically impossible to win the presidency as a third party candidate. ”

      p] Why not? Perot was at 40% in the polls at one point in ’92 (early one before campaign disintegration followed by dropping out and then dropping in for the last 5 weeks).

      Ahead of both Bush and Clinton. Has he managed to remain at, above or close to Bush and Clinton the wasted vote miscalculation would not have applied at all. Thus he would have had a chance to win. In the intervening 20 years party loyalty to the big two has dropped significantly and fewer states have straight ticket devices. Further, the disgust with the big two has grown a great deal. It is true that alt parties still lose the presidency every time, but that doesn’t mean it is politically impossible. What it means is that they have little money and no “quality” candidates as you define them.

      ” The most a third party candidate could do would be to act as a spoiler, splitting the vote of his own party, Republican or Democrat, so the other party’s candidate would win. ”

      p] This assumes, completely incorrectly, that such a candidate identifies more with one or the other. Not necessarily so. Many of us no longer see a lesser evil between the two, but see them as two fists or two boots of the same evil entity in function. The number of us who see that is growing all the time. And ignores the fact that such a candidate actually can win, not just swing the race. See above.

      Assuming however that your analysis was correct it would still make sense to run as an alternative. Why is that? Well, if your preferred lesser evil continues to become more and more evil, how do you stop that trend when there is no competition for them but for the greater evil? The greater evil will keep pulling the lesser evil to become more evil because they can take your vote for granted and must only compete for those in the middle between the two evils who need only decide which is the lesser evil. Thus over time you can only get more and more evil, albeit at various rates depending on who wins. Is it better to be tortured to death slowly than to die quickly? The only way to stop the relentless pull towards more and more evil is to vote for a so called spoiler, thus teaching your supposed lesser evil to be even less evil or risk losing. True in the short run you get more evil faster, but in the long run you have a chance of moving towards less, not just lesser, evil. Otherwise the only question is at what rate evil triumphs.

      Furthermore this assumes that the evils are possible to rate. That’s hard to do given that there are no consequences to lying in campaign promises (especially if not voting for the liars is removed as an option). But assuming they always tell the truth, for many of us one party is more evil on some issues and the other is more evil on other issues. On balance there is no difference even though differences do exist.

      ” If, by some miracle the AE candidate won, how could he/she ever accomplish anything as president? He would have no AE members in Congress to work with. Every member of Congress would be in the opposition party, with his former party members hating him the most. There would be increased gridlock as every member of Congress would want the AE president to fail, to prove that the whole AE idea does not work.

      The president has numerous powers that do not rely on who is in Congress.

      And the mere fact of such a presidential candidate winning would serve as a shock to members of Congress to take his or her agenda very seriously or risk losing their jobs in 2-6 years. Just because members are elected with a party labels does not mean they have to vote with their party bosses; they are free to vote as they wish and almost certainly many would.”

      Congress members want their bills to pass. If their bills are vetoed they need 2/3 in both Houses to pass them. That is a harder threshold to cross and relatively fewer bills could thus become law. Thus there is incentive for members of Congress to work with the president and increase the chances of their bills being signed, even if their party bosses tell them to do otherwise. The president thus has a lot of leverage. If so moved, the president can also use the federal bureaucracy to help or hurt select districts, place or not place various constituents and allies into various nominations, and so on.

      Lastly, it appears that you know a lot about Buddy Roemer. Why do you know or care so much about him in particular? Just curious.

  • Nobody Asked Me...But,

    Buddy Roemer failed to qualify for the AE online caucus. Yet, he had more supporters than any other person willing to accept the AE nomination. This is the best that AE could do in more than a year of effort. SO,

    COULD BUDDY ROEMER BE A GOOD NOMINEE FOR AMERICANS ELECT?
    COULD BUDDY ROEMER BE A GOOD PRESIDENT?

    If you would like to learn the facts about him, go to this web page by Mr. Lessig and see the FOUR comments of “SAY AMEN.” (There are other comments there covering a wide range of opinions, that you may also wish to examine.)
    http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2012/05/buddy-roemer-the-anti-spoiler/257101/

    • Meh. A small-time undistinguished pol, and current small-time bank president, who has learned that bad-mouthing “big money” with fiery rhetoric attracts a certain number (albeit not a large number) of good-hearted but credulous voters. We could forgive him for all of that. What we can’t forgive him for is climbing in bed with the secret big money of Americans Elect while campaigning against secret big money in politics. Too clever by half. Just another self-promoter.

  • t ball

    I find it rather satisfying that AE’s effort is failing so miserably. All that money spent, all that time and effort in trying to massage a preferred result and most everyone except the occasional media hound looking for a filler story is ignoring them completely.

    It’s too bad the American people aren’t as good at ferreting out fakes in our two main political parties.

  • See… you’re capable of writing a long post criticizing Americans Elect without stooping to conspiracy theories. It’s unfortunate you stooped to that in other posts, but I agree with you on a majority of the above, and even where I don’t, I can see where you’re coming from.

    • This article is no different than the others in its method — the only difference is stylistic, that it uses the word “source” for the link rather than letting another word be the link. All of my factual claims are sourced in this and in the other articles, and I’m always happy to correct errors when they’re documented. I have asked you to substantiate your non-specific claims (here and here for two out of about a dozen instances) that I’m in error, but you haven’t yet. I know you don’t like what I have to say, but what I write about Americans Elect isn’t about liking or not liking — it’s about facts. If you’re serious about facts, please go back to those prior posts and document, with links to sources, any errors. I would appreciate that.

    • How’s this for a conspiracy theory? AECorp’s serial screw-ups over the past few months look for all the world like the bumblings of a drooling idiot. Yet we must assume that AECorp owner/operator, Pete Ackerman — a guy who was clever enough to scam a billion dollar fortune on Wall St — can’t possibly be a drooling idiot (can he?). So what other explanations could there be for Ackerman’s performance failure at Americans Elect? Only two we can think of:
      1. Ackerman designed AE to fail as it has done, to provide him with a cover story (“Hey, we tried…we really tried, but America doesn’t want to vote anymore! Voting is sooo Twentieth Century), thus enabling him to simply appoint AE’s nominee.
      …or…
      2. Early on Ackerman read the numbers and realized that the Draft Ron Paul campaign would be the hands-down winner, and muttering “over my dead body” he sabotaged AE to insure against that result.

      We note that #1 and #2 are not mutually exclusive. Fearing a Ron Paul nomination, Ackerman could have sabotaged the balloting in order to enable him to appoint someone else instead as the nominee.

      As far as we can figure, it has to be one or the other: either Pete Ackerman is in fact a drooling idiot, or else he purposely sabotaged AE.

      Are we missing something here?

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