In the all-online corporate privatized presidential nomination effort called Americans Elect, there are different levels of participation:
1. Facebook Fan: someone who “likes” Americans Elect on Facebook. As of this morning, 466,625 people have “liked” Americans Elect on Facebook.
2. Account holder: someone who signed up for an account at americanselect.com. Americans Elect has never revealed how many people hold an account at americanselect.com.
3. Delegate: According to the official Americans Elect bylaws, delegates are not mere Facebook fans or account holders. Delegates are people who have signed up for accounts, and then “have submitted sufficient information to permit verification of their lawful status as registered voters and citizens of the United States, and who have been so verified by Americans Elect, and who have accepted the Delegate Pledge as provided by the Rules Committee.”
On February 2 2012, under the signature of Americans Elect National Press Secretary Ileana Wachtel, Americans Elect issued a press release declaring that “The candidate page enables Americans Elect delegates – now numbering more than 360,000 – to bypass the two-party primary process, identify and draft candidates who share their concerns, and have their voices heard regardless of where they live.”
On March 28 2012, again under the signature of Americans Elect National Press Secretary Ileana Wachtel, Americans Elect issued another press release declaring that “To date, there have been over 2.9 million visitors to the site, 19 million questions answered, over 400,000 delegates and over 460,000 Facebook fans.” (This count indicates that over the past two months, Americans Elect’s Facebook fanbase has been stagnant.)
On March 29 2012, again under the signature of Americans Elect National Press Secretary Ileana Wachtel, Americans Elect issued another press release declaring that “Americans Elect is inviting every registered voter to sign up at AmericansElect.org to join over 400,000 delegates to choose the ticket that will serve as a serious alternative to the two major parties and be on the ballot nationwide this November.”
On April 17 2012, again under the signature of Americans Elect National Press Secretary Ileana Wachtel, Americans Elect issued another press release declaring that “To date, there have been 3 million visitors to the site, 19 million questions answered, over 400,000 delegates have signed up and there are over 460,000 Facebook fans.” (This count indicates that approximately 100,000 people visited the website americanselect.com in a one month period. For purposes of comparison, this only modestly-popular website had 82,231 unique visitors in the month of March.)
In March, John Lumea carefully showed how these claims by Americans Elect could not possibly be true.
Now Will Evans of California Watch has caught Wachtel acknowledging that Americans Elect’s prior claims are not true:
Even Americans Elect die-hards had their share of gripes. One of the main complaints was that prospective voters had a hard time registering as delegates through the website.
Risley said the Americans Elect model gave her “hope for the first time in a long time.” But as she held campaign gatherings at her home and reached out to like-minded activists at Occupy protests, she became frustrated with the group’s online system. Some supporters couldn’t get through the site’s intensive verification of whether they were registered voters or didn’t want to provide the last four digits of their Social Security numbers, she said.
“Why make it so hard for people?” Risley said.
Ileana Wachtel, Americans Elect’s press secretary, said only 300 out of tens of thousands of people had problems with the website that couldn’t be resolved, mostly because of inaccurate voter registration data.
“When dealing with voters most precious franchise, the vote, there cannot be any compromise on the issue of security,” she said in an e-mail.
Only 300 out of “tens of thousands” had trouble registering as delegates? Tens of thousands? Counting generously, that means less than a hundred thousand people registered as delegates. If less than a hundred thousand people registered as delegates, that means Americans Elect inflated its delegate count in publicity materials by at least 400% — and most likely by more.
Why does this matter?
It matters because Americans Elect wanted to be the first corporation in the history of America to run its own privatized online presidential nomination — and it wanted to count the votes. Americans Elect has just shown it can’t be trusted to produce an accurate count.
It matters because Americans Elect may have failed in the 2012 elections, but you can bet that it will come back, just like it changed its name from Unity08 and came back after its even bigger failure in the 2008 cycle. Americans Elect will tell people that it’s the solution to a corrupt political system. With its delegate count lie, situated among dozens of other incidents, Americans Elect has shown that it is not the solution.