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Americans Elect

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Americans Elect was a non-partisan, internet-based political platform that was formed by former Marine Eliot Ackerman and Khalil Byrd for the 2012 U.S. Presidential Election. The organization sought to be on all state ballots, and succeeded in registering for a third-party slot in 29 of the 50 states.[1]


Americans Elect claimed to have the first-ever open nominating process, stating: "We're using the Internet to give every single voter—Democrat, Republican or independent—the power to nominate a presidential ticket in 2012. The people will choose the issues."[2]

Given the unpopularity of the two major parties in the United States, a grassroots, centrist third party with an ultra-democratic process for nominating a candidate and writing the party platform held obvious appeal to many pundits and voters. Noted mustache Thomas Friedman stated that "[w]hat did to books, what the blogosphere did to newspapers, what the iPod did to music, what did to pharmacies, Americans Elect plans to do to the two-party duopoly — remove the barriers to real competition, flatten the incumbents and let the people in."[3]


An examination of the actual governing documents of Americans Elect revealed that any actual candidate or issue proposed by voters can be overruled or amended by the Board of Directors for the organization. This Board consists of the organizers of the party, cannot be voted out by the actual party members, and appoints its own members. Because of this arrangement, that grants total power to an unelected handful, a cynic might call Americans Elect a fantastic opportunity for a small group of wealthy people to profit from the inchoate American desire for a nonspecific third party.[4]

Several self-righteous right-wing groups have also attacked the group for claiming to be non-partisan, pointing to the organization's issue page as being full of "socialist" viewpoints; while the organization is indeed not particularly affiliated with either major political party, its viewpoint skews heavily towards that of the outspoken libertarians who dominate the process online. They have also been attacked for their acceptance of large private donations. [5] Before the election, there was also concern that they might have a spoiler effect on the race, leading to one candidate or the other getting elected without a majority of the vote.[6] Finally, there were criticisms of the party's non-partisanism itself, arguing that its "radical centrism" and rejection of ideology was largely an excuse to avoid taking real stances on issues.[7]


Even though online voting for a candidate was supposed to begin in the first week of April 2012, Americans Elect delayed the vote for a full month.[8] Despite being able to gain ballot access in half of the country,[9] it soon became a problem that their motley collection of potential candidates mimicked the slate of center-right/libertarian Republican also-rans: leading contenders were Congressman Ron Paul, Buddy Roemer, and Jon Huntsman. Other candidates represented more divergent views, but still appealed to only a small sector of the electorate — for example, independent socialist Senator Bernie Sanders. Nowhere visible were the high-profile and well-moneyed independent candidates the project seems to have sought, such as New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

On May 15, 2012, Americans Elect announced that no candidate had met their threshold for support, and declined to nominate anyone for the 2012 election[10]; the election was held and their ballot line was blank.