Americans Elect putting democracy online

The writer Rita Mae Brown once shared a piece of wisdom that has been used so many times that it’s become a cliche: “Insanity is doing the same thing, over and over again, but expecting different results.”

If that’s so, then if Americans keep electing officials like they have been, then the country truly has gone nuts.

In 2012, there will be a new way. Americans Elect is creating an online nominating process where voters can register as delegates at the effort’s website and then eventually select a nominee. The group is collecting signatures – including 1.6 million already collected in California – to get on the ballot in all 50 states.

Americans Elect is a nominating process, not a political party. Delegates who register at the website are asked a series of questions to determine their political views and will be connected to like-minded voters. Six candidates will emerge from that process to compete for the group’s nomination in June. Each must name a vice presidential running mate who is a member of a different party or is an independent. At that point, Americans Elect’s job is finished and the nominee will run his or her own campaign.

The effort has strong backing so far. It says it has raised $20 million, including $1.55 million from investment executive Peter Ackerman, who’s son, Elliott, is the chief operating officer. Its chief executive officer, Khalil Byrd, is a Republican strategist. Its board of advisors includes former CIA chief William Webster. Its chief technology officer, Joshua Levine, did that same job at E-Trade.

More in my column this week for the Arkansas News Bureau.

Here’s a very informative story in the Los Angeles Times.

And, once more, here is the Americans Elect website, www.americanselect.org.

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