Americans Elect Struggles to Find Suitable Third-Party Candidate

Online group promises ballot access to an independent presidential candidate, but no one’s made the cut.

Buddy Roemer speaks in Waukee, Iowa. Roemer was one of the candidates running for president as part of Americans Elect ticket.

Americans Elect is going through some tough times. The advocacy group was created by several wealthy activists to place an independent presidential candidate on the ballot in all 50 states this fall. The trouble, it turns out, is that no one has met the group's standards to qualify for its presidential nomination, and Americans Elect has announced that it is suspending the process, at least for now.

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It had sounded so impressive: Americans Elect would go through the trouble, state by state, of placing an independent "ticket" on the ballot, and then it would use new online technology to allow people to choose nominees for president and vice president. What was missing were credible candidates, and that's still the case.

The ballot access program has been going well, with Americans Elect on the ballot in more than half the states. But the closest that the group could come to a candidate is Buddy Roemer, the former governor and congressman from Louisiana. He ran for the Republican presidential nomination this year, was excluded from the debates, and went nowhere during the primaries. Roemer now concedes that he has failed to get enough online support to qualify for the group's ballot. He got about 6,000 "clicks" for his candidacy in an online system that required at least 10,000—1,000 in each of 10 states.

Roemer said he still wants the nomination and will work harder to get it.

"What Americans Elect has done for our country is revolutionary," he told reporters. "It is my sincere hope that they continue on their mission of putting forth a credible candidate to face the bought candidates—Barack Obama and Mitt Romney."

"The American people are hungry for reform and both parties are not providing it because they are too busy fighting like schoolchildren," he added.

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Americans Elect leaders are now trying to figure out their next step. The group's leaders say the stumbling block was the concern of potential candidates that running for president would subject them and their families to intolerable levels of attack and unwelcome levels of scrutiny. And with the major party candidates already lobbing negative bombs at each other nearly every day, and the media on the hunt for embarrassing stories, those concerns are understandable.