#fail: The Americans Elect Story

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
April 19 2012 2:38 PM

#fail: The Americans Elect Story

It's a little gauche, probably, to moan about your own failure to get somebody on the phone for a story. Nonetheless: Last week I made several attempts to contact Americans Elect for a story about how they were holding up. A couple of assurances that I'd hear back, followed by... nothing. I see now that the organization was busy cooperating with this Ned Martel bruiser.

Last week was supposed to be the first week of online voting on the Americans Elect site, when anyone anywhere could click to endorse practiced politicians or to draft neophytes. But the candidate choices have remained decidedly low-profile, and traffic is meager on the site, which cost $9 million to construct. Scrambling to avert failure, Americans Elect has postponed online voting for a month.

Currently, the AE front page is a study in hilarious contrasts. Yesterday, the group's volunteers got it onto its 25th state, South Dakota. And that ballot line will be available to... one of several people who has no major fundraising ability, war chest, or mass appeal. Oh, sure, possibly one of the "draft" candidates like Ron Paul will win the AE nod. (Paul has been mealy-mouthed about the possibility of something like this.) But that wasn't the point of AE. The point, as Tom Friedman put it, was to nominate "a viable, centrist, third presidential ticket" in a representative online convention. The candidates who've declared for a convention like this are Buddy Roemer and Rocky Anderson, well-meaning campaign reform guys with no real money to speak of. It's Bloomberg or bust, and even then, it might be a bust -- look at how few people have signed up nine months after the article was written up in the New York Times!

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 


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