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Americans Elect Doubles Down on Fib about Platform of Questions in August 2012 Report

As I read through and scan in a paper copy of the Americans Elect Mission Report, I’m tickled by the story Americans Elect is telling about itself, tickled by the inability of Americans Elect staffers to tell a story straight. Even in a document sent only to Americans Elect insiders and boosters, the privatized-presidential-election corporation repeats the disingenuous false claims it had trumpeted this past spring.

What Americans Elect Claims About its Platform of Questions
Take Elliot Ackerman and Brian Findlay’s claim on page 26:

From Americans Elect Mission Report p. 26: Elliot Ackerman and Brian Findlay dissemble on the Platform of Questions

"A central idea of Americans Elect was that there would be no proscribed platform of issues, allowing the delegates to shape the debate. By submitting more than 26,000 questions online, delegates participated in the development of 15 key questions that all candidates were required to answer in order to seek the AE nomination. The Platform of Questions did not define how candidates must stand on the issues, but it did define what issues the candidates must address to compete for the nomination."

On page 27, Americans Elect lists its Platform of Questions, a list which you can see is almost identical to the Platform of Questions the corporation rolled out in January 2012. The January 2012 Platform of Questions has 15 questions; the August 2012 Platform of Questions contains 14 questions lifted verbatim from the January 2012 Platform, and leaves one question from the January Platform of Questions behind (more on that later).

Here’s a copy of page 27 for you to review. Notice that in the header Americans Elect repeats its claim that these are the questions developed by delegates:

Americans Elect Mission Report 27: What Elliot Ackerman and Brian Findlay Claim is a Delegates' Platform of Questions

And here at its special awards page, Americans Elect is shown as declaring that the Platform of Questions was what the delegates preferred…

Americans Elect talks about its Shape the Debate voting feature for a Platform of Questions.  Unfortunately, Americans Elect ignored the vote results.

What Americans Elect Really Did with Delegate Preferences to Get Its Platform of Questions
How accurate are Americans Elect’s claims about following the will of its delegates in creating the Platform of Questions? Not accurate at all.

The thing is that back in January, I made sure to keep track of the actual vote tallies at “Shape the Debate” — the process Americans Elect set up for delegates to suggest and vote on options for inclusion in the Platform of Questions. What did I find?

Americans Elect ignored many of the questions getting the most votes.

  • The 3rd-place question in the delegate vote count read, “Corporations are currently given same rights as people. Do you agree or disagree with this legal practice, and how would your administration’s policies reflect that perspective?” Despite its high ranking, this question was left off the Platform of 15 Questions by Americans Elect.
  • The 6th-place question in the delegate count read, “In the wake of the Citizens United decision by the United States Supreme Court, many people believe that money has too much influence in political campaigns. Do you agree? If so, how might we reform current election laws to change this?” Despite its high ranking, this question was left off the Platform of 15 Questions by Americans Elect.
  • The 7th-place question in the delegate count read, “Technology is advancing at an accelerating rate, but so much of our system runs on centuries-old bureaucratic processes. How would you promote the utilization of technology to rid government of inefficiency and to become more effective?”Despite its high ranking, this question was left off the Platform of 15 Questions by Americans Elect.
  • The 8th-place question in the delegate count read, “How do you plan to deal with nations who wish to acquire nuclear weapons (e.g., Iran and North Korea)?” Despite its high ranking, this question was left off the Platform of 15 Questions by Americans Elect.
  • The 9th-place question in the delegate count read, “Since the President’s appointment has a two-term limit, would you support term limits on all elected offices (such as Senators, Congresspeople, and Governors)?” Despite its high ranking, this question was left off the Platform of 15 Questions by Americans Elect.
  • The 10th-place question in the delegate count read, “Would you support replacing the electoral college with a national popular vote?” Despite its high ranking, this question was left off the Platform of 15 Questions by Americans Elect.
  • The 14th-place question in the delegate count read, “What reforms will you take to ensure that corporations and unions cannot ‘buy’ seats in Congress and other positions, both legislative and executive?” Despite its high ranking, this question was left off the Platform of 15 Questions by Americans Elect.

On top of that, in the place of the actual top questions as voted on by delegates, Americans Elect substituted a number of questions in its Platform of 15 Questions that weren’t anywhere in the top 25 of the vote count.

  • Americans Elect included the question “How do you propose we reduce the national debt, and how much should the national debt be considered in economic recovery plans?” in its Platform of 15 Questions even though there was no question even like that question among the top 25 in the delegate vote. As a matter of fact, the highest-rated question on the national debt in the delegate vote was far back, in 72nd place. There were 10 other questions about the economy alone that ranked higher in the delegate vote.
  • Americans Elect included two questions on health care — “What do you think is driving the rapid growth of health care costs, and how would you slow it down? Would you support putting some kind of cap on what the government spends on Medicare?” and “Should the government require that all citizens have healthcare insurance? If so, what is your thought about a premium support model similar to the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program?” — even though there were no questions even like these among the top 25 in the delegate vote.
  • Americans Elect included two questions on education — “Why do you think college costs keep rising? Are students getting their money’s worth, and what would you do to slow down cost growth?” and “What would you do to improve workforce development and job training opportunities for U.S. workers?”even though there were no questions even like these among the top 25 in the delegate vote.
  • Americans Elect inserted this question as one of the 15 in its Platform of Questions — “In addition to renewable fuels, do you believe natural gas and nuclear energy should play a larger role in America’s energy mix?”even though there was no question even like that question among the top 25 in the delegate vote.
  • Americans Elect inserted this question as one of the 15 in its Platform of Questions — “Is America’s enormous trade deficit with China a problem? How would you boost U.S. exports and encourage China and other countries to buy more from us?”even though there was no question even like that question among the top 25 in the delegate vote.

And when Americans Elect whittled its Platform of Questions down from 15 in January to 14 in the August Mission Report, here’s the one it cut:

"Is U.S. energy independence a feasible goal and, if so, how would you achieve it? How would you reduce our reliance on foreign oil?"

You know what’s coming by now, don’t you? That’s right — the question Americans Elect axed was one of the few questions in the Platform of Questions that actually ranked among the top 20 in the delegate vote.

Even after its failure, Americans Elect can’t stop telling fibs about itself.

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