Election option offeredWisconsin residents have another option when it comes time to vote for president in November.
By: Shelley Nelson, Superior Telegram
Wisconsin residents have another option when it comes time to vote for president in November.
And the choice is greater than the Democratic or Republican parties.
“Americans Elect is an innovative process that looks to reform the political system at the highest level,” said Professor David C. King, a member of the board of advisors at Americans Elect. King has experience with election reform, and since 1992, has been a lecturer in public policy at the Harvard Kennedy School and faculty chairman of Harvard’s program for newly elected members of the U.S. Congress and Harvard’s executive program for leaders in state and local governments. In addition to King’s academic background, in the wake of the 2000 presidential elections, King directed the Task Force on Election Administration for the National Commission on Election Reform, chaired by former presidents Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter. That effort culminated in landmark voting rights legislation signed by President Bush in late 2002. He later oversaw an evaluation and new management structure for the Boston Election Department.
“It takes to task our election process, which is currently designed to keep the two party system in power through stringent ballot access rules, an antiquated primary system and limited voter participation,” King said.
That’s going to change in at least 25 states, including Wisconsin. The goal is to have an Americans Elect candidate on the ballot in 50 states before the November election.
“With 50 state ballot access and a website that allows voters to participate in the first-ever online convention in June to nominate a nonpartisan ticket and broaden the opportunity for qualified leadership to run,” King said, “Americans Elect is a much needed challenger to the established political system currently dominating the election process in this country today.”
To get on the ballot in Wisconsin, Americans Elect had to petition for ballot status with the Government Accountability Board. Ten thousand Wisconsin residents were needed to sign the petition, including at least 1,000 in three congressional districts.
Americans Elect gathered more than 17,000 signatures to gain access to the ballot, said Allison Grant of Americans Elect.
“In terms of getting on the ballot in Wisconsin, Americans Elect must register as a minor political party, an indication of the difficulty of ballot access laws,” Grant said. “However, Americans Elect, as an organization, is a nonprofit and we have no political platform, but rather leave that up to our delegates to define the issues and develop the platform on which the candidate will run. In addition, we are not a third party, in the fact that individuals can run on the Americans Elect ticket and still be a member of their current political party, the caveat being that his or her vice presidential candidate must be of a party other than their own.”
In addition, Americans Elect does not and cannot engage in any kind of activities of a political party, Grant said. It does not and cannot back a candidate; it does not and cannot promote a special interest or ideology, she said.
What it can do is provide a process in which voters can decide the rules, develop the platform of questions, draft candidates and nominate a ticket to compete in the general election.
Republicans and Democrats alike say Americans Elect will act as a spoiler for their party’s ticket, Grant said. In fact, Americans Elect will not be a spoiler for either party, but a competitive third ticket that draws from the center of both parties and from independents, she said.
In a poll of registered voters conducted in December, one-quarter of American voters responded they would vote for “an alternative unity ticket with a Democrat and a Republican as president and vice president,” while the rest of the respondents were split evenly between straight Democratic and Republican tickets.
The 25 percent support for a unity ticket came without named candidates, demonstrating support from the center of both parties to see a third balanced choice on the ballot in 2012, Grant said. Consider 1992, when exit polls showed that Ross Perot drew equally from both sides — and that occurred at a time when overall dissatisfaction with the government was at 39 percent, not 81 percent, she said.
Since then, the center has grown, and the two major parties are drawing less and less support. A balanced ticket will bring the debate and dialogue to the center — away from the political fringes where the two parties govern today, Grant said.