This article first appeared on the blog Stuff Smart People Like.
Seeking to capitalize on Americans disappointment with current party politics, political officials from both sides have recently been pushing 'Americans Elect' as an alternative to politics as usual. Americans Elect is planning on using an internet-based nomination process to get a candidate added to the 2012 Presidential Election ballot. Sounds interesting, but how will it work?
At the moment Americans Elect has ballot status in 13 of the 50 US states and is well on its way to getting this done in the remaining states. Apparently any qualified voter who is confirmed by Americans Elect can be nominated as a candidate in this process. Once nominated the candidate needs a certain number of support clicks from other confirmed delegates. If they reach that number they then answer questions related to various issues that correspond to hot topics from users' responses. At that point you still need to be vetted by the Candidate Certification Committee. They look at career aspects that have been similar to previous presidents. Sorry Joe the Plumber, being a talking points figurehead doesn't quite cut it.
This field of qualified candidates will be winnowed down to six around April 2012. When that happens, the candidates choose a running mate to enter into the final election. Around June 2012 they will hold an online "convention" where any registered voter who has been confirmed by Americans Elect votes on who they want to see on the ticket.
It's kind of a neat idea. You get to elect your own candidate, not leave it open to professional delegates, superdelegates, superheroes, and whatnot. It's doubtful that said candidate will seriously challenge the traditional parties in the general election this year. But, if you remember that Ross Perot garnered almost 20% of the popular vote in 1992, then maybe they can garner enough votes to make rock the boat a little bit. With approval ratings for Congress at record lows, mirroring public sentiment about government in general and its ineffectiveness in recent years, a significant vote grab by a third candidate may make politicians a little more wary about their actions in office.
To get a better idea of the process, I registered for the site. Entered in name and e-mail address, created a pin for login purposes. Then they ask you to define what your prioritiesare (e.g., education, economy, environmental, healthcare, etc) on a sliding scale. Following this you answer nine questions regarding topics that are usually hot button issues in these areas. You can answer more to refine your "match" on issues if you like, but only the initial nine seem to be required. I answered 100 to get the silver "matchmaker" badge. Yay me. Then you can wade through the hundreds of qualified candidates. I'm following Shelley Berkley, a Representative from Nevada, but only because her photo is awesome. All of the favorites are on their too, Batshit crazy Bachmann, Sex Crazy Cain, etc. Alan Keyes is even on here. This guy campaigns for office like it's his job. A job that he never gets hired for. Anyhoo, check it out, at the very least it may make this election season more interesting.