Americans Elect Quietly Working Toward Ballot Access in All 50 States

Has anyone out there been following developments surrounding Americans Elect?  I summarize some recent news on the group in this week's column for CAIVN:
In May, Ballot Access News reported that the new political organization Americans Elect had already collected over 500,000 signatures in its California ballot access petition drive.  From Richard Winger:
This already sets a new record for the largest number of signatures ever collected in one state to place a new party on the ballot. The previous highs had been set by the American Independent Party in Ohio in 1968, which collected 451,000 signatures; and the Independent Progressive Party in California in 1947-1948, which collected 464,000.
To gain ballot access by petition in California, parties must gather over 1,000,000 valid signatures – the exact number being equal to 10% of the total vote in the previous gubernatorial election. Alternately, a new party can qualify if its total registration exceeds 1% of the previous gubernatorial election.  Why then would Americans Elect seek 1 million signatures rather than 100,000 members? As the party’s national field director, Kellen Arno, explains in an interview on the group’s website, Americans Elect is apparently not interested in membership per se:
“One of the core beliefs of Americans Elect is welcoming Americans from all political parties and ideologies. Because we are not a traditional third party or political part of any sort, we don’t want to ask people to leave their parties. Instead, we believe that the more people who are able to participate in Americans Elect, from as diverse backgrounds as possible, ultimately makes our democracy and our country stronger,” says Arno. 
In recent months, Americans Elect has quietly begun an ambitious campaign to gain ballot access in all 50 states ahead of next year’s presidential election.  The party has already submitted petitions in Nevada, Arizona, Michigan, Alaska, and Florida, according to reports at Ballot Access News.
However, relatively little seems to be known about the group, and it has received very little news coverage, despite the fact that it appears to have a significant amount of money at its disposal.  "Americans Elect, which became a 501(c) 4 corporation in September, can be as secretive as it wishes. As a 501(c) 4 it is not required to report who its contributors are,” wrote Greg Lucas for Capitol Weekly back in April.  A Google News search for “Americans Elect,” returns just three references to the organization and two of these are from Ballot Access News.

Until it was converted into a 501(c) 4, Americans Elect was registered as a 527 organization.  According to Open Secrets, there were two primary contributors to that incarnation of the group: Peter Ackerman and Arno Political Consultants.  Ackerman was previously active in the failed Unity ‘08 effort to field a bipartisan presidential ticket in the 2008 election.

Though Americans Elect is seeking ballot access in all 50 states as a political party, it does not conceive itself as a party, at least in the traditional sense.  Rather, it stresses how new technologies can transform the political process in the United States.  “Americans Elect will hold a secure vote in the first-ever online presidential nominating convention. Every registered voter—Democrats, Republicans, and independents—may be a Delegate and help nominate a presidential ticket that bridges the vital center of our national politics,” says the group on its “About” page.

Though the group has received relatively little media attention to date, some expect its campaign to kick into high gear over the summer.  “There is a vacuum of traditional political news during the summer months . . . This summer, I expect the big political drama to be the emergence of Americans Elect,” writes Jim Cook at Irregular Times.
For more on the group, check out their website, but be sure to peruse the ongoing, critical coverage of the organization at Irregular Times.


Samuel Wilson said...

This definitely bears further investigation. I'd never heard of these people before I read your article, so thanks for the heads-up.

Rick said...

It appears that Mike Arno has serious problems not related to this petition drive.
His pattern of conduct since the death of his brother is troublesome for any one who circulates petitions.
The wife left him over eastern european whore hopping and his significant other stateside.
On the last two petitions Arno has 'managed', he has cheated his workers and lied to his clients.
His charge backs on electricity were based on a flawed formula (in his favor by 5%-13% depending on county). The more blackstriping a manager did to try to clean it up, the worse they got screwed. Not content with his managers doing his validity skimming for him, he ‘rewarded’ them by hitting them with across the board chargebacks after it was too late.
On the tobacco tax, he refused to file the petition until he was payed “enough to cover the people who stood in front of the stores”. He then scurried away keeping the money for himself and again leaving people unpaid.
In this latest fiasco with Americans Elect, he has already had to refund nearly $30,000.00( to Peter Ackerman. While this is not conclusive proof that yet another client caught Arno with his hand in the till,I have never seen a client demand a refund because they had trust in the integrity and/or bookkeeping methods of the consultant.
His other business ventures haven’t done so well either. His partner Rich Nicholas was arrested at a local mall in a tragic case of mistaken identity. It seems the approchable teenager with family problems he met while trolling chat rooms turned out to be an undercover officer. No one ever figured out the relationship between Rich and Mike, but they did share a fascination with video gadgets and teen trends. It also raises the question as to whether Mike’s tireless fundraisnig efforts to bring a swim center to Rio Americano High School was an act of charity or a cynical ploy to gain access to scantilly clad juveniles.
APC used to be the most ethical company in this industry. Unfortunately that ceased with the death of Bill Arno and the return of Linda Petrillo to his bookkeeping department.
Petrillo is there only because she is a semi-skilled liar. Anyone who has had to deal with her sloppy, lazy, mistake prone work ethic knows what I am talking about. Whenever her incompetence is on display she lashes out like a wounded kimodo dragon in a tone reminiscent of a mastodon stuck in a tar pit. She became even worse several years ago when the bank took away her house because she was treating it like an ATM machine. Just recently she was caught lying to unemployment.
People in this industry know how to find me and if/when he rips everyone off, I’m still in the data business, and available to testify if necessary.
For the record I stopped doing his programming because I will not work with people who lie and who’s business practices I can’t defend.
All of the above is a matter of public record or personal opinion. Mike Arno has already been informed by a judge in a court of law as to his lack of legal remedy for anything I have written.
Just my $0.02

knersh said...

The more interesting question is why are they going for over 1 million signatures, rather than qualifying the eventual presidential nominee as an independent, which takes less than 1/5 as many signatures?