Americans Elect organizers, fresh from qualifying as a political party in California for the 2012 elections, said Tuesday they fully expect to achieve their goal -- gaining ballot access in all 50 states for a candidate to be named later.
"We're in 13 as of today," group political director Darry Sragow told The Bee's editorial board. "We're going to be in all 50."
National field director Kellen Arno said all necessary signatures will be collected by the end of the year for 30 states that allow that process. The group is prepared to file lawsuits if denied ballot access by a state but generally has opted to comply whenever possible with state ballot laws -- even ones it found onerous.
Chief Operating Officer Elliot Ackerman said the group has built a "bank level-plus secure site" that will be used to conduct the first Web-based presidential nomination.
Any registered voter can sign up to cast ballots in a round of voting that will culminate with a June vote on a slate of six candidates who have each selected a running mate from a different political party.
Candidates must pledge to govern "without concern for the partisan interest of either major party."
Americans Elect will automatically qualify as a candidate "any natural person who is constitutionally eligible to serve as president and who has served in any of the following positions without removal from office or current criminal indictment or conviction":
U.S. member of Congress
Presidential cabinet member
Head of a federal agency
Mayor of any of the largest 100 cities in the United States
Chairman or chief executive officer or president of any corporation or nonprofit corporation or philanthropic organization with 1,000 or more employees
President of a national labor union with 100,000 or more members
President of an American-based university with more than 4,000 students
Military officer who has attained flag rank. (The Department of Defense Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms, as amended through January 2011, defines a flag officer as "an officer holding the rank of general, lieutenant general, major general or brigadier general in the U.S. Army, Air Force or Marine Corps, or admiral, vice admiral or rear admiral in the U.S. Navy or Coast Guard.")
Others will need to demonstrate they can win support by securing at least 5,000 "support clicks" in 10 states, then be cleared by a candidate certification committee.
Bottom line: By June, Sragow said, "There's going to be somebody running for president of the United States who wouldn't otherwise be running for president of the United States."