Front Group Americans Elect to Get on the 2012 Ballot in California

The group Americans Elect is planning to run a independent candidate for president and has now been certified to appear on the ballot in California. From Americans Elect:

The California Secretary of State certified a petition with 1.62 million signatures, making this the largest single signature gathering drive in the state’s history and one of the largest in U.S. history.

“Ballot access in California is a major milestone in achieving ballot access in all 50 states,” said Kellen Arno, Executive Director of Ballot Access and National Field Engagement. “Submitting 1.62 million signatures in California, a politically complex and diverse state, is testimony to the fact that Californians are looking for a better choice in the electoral process and one that will put an end to partisan gridlock in Washington.”

Given the history and nature of presidential elections in this country I think it is unlikely America Elect will be a major force in the 2012 election.  Still, as a result of our poorly designed election laws even a minor force could theoretically have a major impact.

Since we have an electoral college and first-past-the-post rules, it is possible for a third party candidate who gets only a few percentage points to swing an election if they can draw most of their support away from one of the two major parties. This so called spoiler effect wouldn’t be a problem if the US followed other democracies in adopting rules to eliminate this outcome, such as instant run off voting or traditional run off elections.

Gathering 1.62 million signatures is not easy. It requires either a huge volunteer operation or spending well over a million dollars for paid signature gathering. A paid signature gathering effort can easily run roughly $1 to $3 per signature. If this is an indication of just how much money the people behind America Elect are prepared to throw into this effort, it could potentially make some minor waves.


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Jon Walker

Jon Walker

Jonathan Walker grew up in New Jersey. He graduated from Wesleyan University in 2006. He is an expert on politics, health care and drug policy. He is also the author of After Legalization and Cobalt Slave, and a Futurist writer at