Democrat or Republican -Americans are used to having two choices for president.
But a new group called Americans Elect wants a third candidate on the ballot for the 2012 elections.
“The really intriguing thing about Americans Elect is what you have, for all practical purposes, a third party organization that is going to be on the ballot in all 50 states, but is going to nominate it’s candidate through an online process the likes of which our country has never seen,” said Dan Schnur, the director of the Jesse Unruh Institute for Politics.
Americans Elect is not a political party; it’s a non-profit group starting an online movement for President.
“We need to completely change the system and we’re in the IT world so why not do it online,” said Kassie Lorenzen, the USC representative for Americans Elect.
Schnur thinks Americans Elect will be particularly attractive to younger voters.
“Someone who is age 18-25 has never known a world with 3 television networks, they’ve never know a world with 5 buttons on the car radio,” said Schnur. “So why in the world would they be forced into a binary choice for president?”
Voters fill out a 150-question survey that automatically qualifies them to become delegates. Unlike a traditional political convention, the entire Americans Elect convention in June will be done online.
“Our primary is a national, online primary,” said Darry Sragow, the political director for Americans Elect. “A small group of people who show up at caucuses in Iowa in the dead of winter and is not going to be selecting who our nominee is.”
Its goal is to get a moderate candidate elected. Any Republican nominated would have to choose a Democratic ticket mate and vice versa. Some rumored candidates include New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and former Louisiana Governor Buddy Roemer.
“Maybe we’re going to nominate someone who isn’t going to get a lot of votes,” said Sragow. “But the expectation is we’re going to nominate someone who is deeply and widely appealing to the American public and will be viewed as someone who can genuinely solve the problems we have today.”
Schnur thinks it may be difficult for a moderate candidate to get the nomination.
“The biggest challenge for Americans Elect is that you’re going to see the process driven primarily by the most ideological intense people on the political spectrum, “ said Schnur. “There’s an old saying in politics - there’s no such thing as a raging moderate.
American voter satisfaction is at an all-time low. According to a recent Gallup poll, only 12 percent of Americans are satisfied with the direction the country is headed. But because of the way the government is set up, it is difficult for a third party candidate to get elected.
“You know it’s going to be a Democrat or a Republican that ends up winning, so why waste your vote, even if I really connected with that candidate,” said Caitlin Bradbury
“Voting at all is really a waste of a vote,” said Pedro Moura, a USC senior. “No I know is going to be making a difference in the presidential election.”
Its supporters are realistic—they know the system won’t change over night.
“It’s new, so I don’t think in the next year we’ll have a huge shot of getting whoever the nominee is but I thin in the future we have a much better shot,” said Lorenzen.
Even if the Americans Elect candidate doesn’t win the election, they still believe they are starting a movement.
“Americans are deeply, deeply unhappy,” said Sragow. “Something is going to have to change. Fundamentally, it’s going to create competition in a market place where there hasn’t been competition. “
Actually voting for president isn’t done online, and the true measure for Americans Elect will be if its delegates show up on Election Day.