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Published April 22 2012

North Dakota can help pick presidential ticket

BISMARCK – North Dakotans can play a role in selecting another presidential candidate to appear on the state’s November ballot.

Americans Elect, a nonprofit Washington, D.C., organization, has met the criteria to have its candidate on the ballot in 25 states – including North Dakota and South Dakota – and aims to reach all 50.

But who that candidate will be is up to the public.

Americans Elect is behind a nationwide effort to change how presidents are elected. Although it says it’s bipartisan and not a third party, the organization wants to see the nation go beyond the traditional two-party system.

Believing that political parties and a few states have too much power in selecting the nation’s president, the organization says it wants to give voters a chance to pick a presidential ticket.

“This is really about taking the power out of the parties and giving it back to the people, creating a situation where there’s one time where everyone can vote and choose a candidate and create a quality ticket, a unity ticket,” said Ileana Wachtel, national press secretary for Americans Elect.

To participate, voters can log on to http://www.americanselect.org/ and view the list of declared and drafted candidates. Declared candidates include former Republican Louisiana Gov. Buddy Roemer, a Boston University economics professor and a former Salt Lake City mayor.

The public can also draft candidates from any party. Republican presidential candidates Ron Paul and Jon Huntsman are favorites, as well as New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Starting May 8, voters who register with the website can begin the process of voting online for their favorite candidate. Registration is free.

The top six candidates will need to confirm they’re interested in being candidates and, if so, will advance to the online convention in June. They also must select a running mate from a different party under the Americans Elect rules.

The goal is to create bipartisanship in government and to have a ticket interested in solutions, not “pandering to the parties,” Wachtel said.

The chosen presidential candidate won’t receive financial support from Americans Elect and will need to run his or her own campaign, Wachtel said.

North Dakota Secretary of State Al Jaeger said the names of the group’s president and vice president candidates must be in to his office by Sept. 7 to be on the ballot.

North Dakota Democratic-NPL Party spokeswoman Alison Kelly declined to comment for this story. North Dakota Republican Party spokesman Matt Becker defended the traditional system for choosing a president.

“Americans Elect is outside the traditional vetting system and doesn’t have to publish any of its funding sources, which leaves a lot of questions in people’s minds,” Becker said. “The Republican nomination process has been at work producing a thoroughly tested candidate whom Americans have come to know and trust.”

Although candidates outside of the traditional two-party system haven’t fared well in presidential elections, Wachtel thinks this election is anybody’s game.

“It’s a different time,” she said. “Anything is possible.”

To read the full set of rules of the Americans Elect online nominating process, visit http://goo.gl/HSuG4.

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Finneman is a multimedia reporter for Forum Communications Co.