I would very much like to recommend a website to every American citizen, but as of today I cannot in good conscience do so. Instead of that recommendation, I'd like to tell you a little about that site and the reason I cannot give that recommendation.
The site I wish I could recommend to you is AmericansElect.org. They state their purpose is as follows:
THE GOAL OF AMERICANS ELECT is to nominate a presidential ticket that answers directly to voters—not the political system.
American voters are tired of politics as usual. They want leaders that will put their country before their party, and American interests before special interests. Leaders who will work together to develop fresh solutions to the serious challenges facing our country. We believe a secure, online nominating process will prove that America is ready for a competitive, nonpartisan ticket.Why I can't recommend AmericansElect.org
Americans Elect is a patriotic dissident's wet dream - Where issues are determined by the populace, free from the influence of the Democratic or Republican parties. Unfortunately, there's not enough indicating that they are actually pursuing that dream and not just taking advantage of patriotic dissidents.
Failure to set an Example of TransparencyIn order to satisfy this patriotic dissident, Americans Elect needs to have the following information readily available in the "Who We Are" section of their website:
1. Political Profile of Americans Elect LeadershipBefore I'm comfortable supporting a project of this potential, I want to be able to trust the people in charge of the project I'm supporting. By not making public the political leanings of Americans Elect Leadership, I cannot extend my trust to Americans Elect. A link to their own color-wheel results would be a great start.
2. The Political and Corporate Histories of Americans Elect leadershipIn order to earn my trust, Americans Elect Leadership must not have ties to a single political party that are not balanced by leadership of equal voice with ties to the other party or politically motivated group. This includes corporations that fund lobbyists and subsidiaries of such corporations.
I would feel the fool to offer my support of Americans Elect only to discover that the entirety of its leadership has ties to a single political group or party, and as this information is not readily available it is easiest to believe that it has been intentionally omitted to obscure the true nature of the site.
Unsubstantiated ClaimsMuch as I have grown to distrust just about everything a politician claims or promises, the claims of political activist websites and groups are subject to distrust and require scrutiny. Americans Elect makes the following claims in their 'about' section under the heading 'What are people asking.' However, there doesn't seem to be a single link to evidence in support of these claims:
1. We have no ties to any political group—left, right, or center. We don't promote any issues, ideology or candidates. None of our funding comes from special interests or lobbyists.
Yet this remains undocumented, as noted by Huffington Post in September.
In an Halloween letter to Wayne A. of Illinois, they justify this as follows:
It was clear from the beginning that the funds needed to gain Ballot Access and build the technology could not be raised unless givers could be protected from public attack. This is why AE is allowing small donor sand large lenders to disclose whether they have given to AE, and how much, at their own pace and their own time.Without a 'proud sponsor' page or links to voluntarily disclosures made by donors, it certainly appears that those funding the project continue to remain secret. Every dollar spent is spent in the hopes of purchasing something and without these disclosures it's easiest to believe that this secret support is the sale of virtue.
2. And an independent, publicly-identified panel of election experts will monitor the process and report publicly on its transparency and security. In response to the question "Is Americans Elect Secure?"
That statement should be a link to that report, and/or the identity of the panel. As it is not, and that information doesn't appear to be readily available, the claim is unsubstantiated.
3. We are well on the way to securing national ballot access.
They present a graphic, that at the time of this post lists nearly 2.5 million signatures and counting. As the requirements necessary to secure national ballot access are not common knowledge, it's not readily apparent how Americans Elect is securing national ballot access nor what hurdles remain between their efforts and national ballot access. "Well on the way," therefore, remains unspecific. An unspecific claim is one that should be dismissed.
Information Obtained from Third Parties: In some instances, we may supplement the information collected from you with information that is received or otherwise obtained from third parties.I'd be much more comfortable knowing exactly what information is being obtained by Americans Elect, and where they are obtaining that information from. Is Facebook telling them what other websites I log into using Facebook Connect?
This is also potentially concerning:
Americans Elect is asking delegates to vote on Facebook or Twitter who they want to nominate as AE’s presidential candidate. They are not asking us to vote on Americans Elect.org, their official website. In fact this is not even an option. Candidate debate discussions---same.Though I suspect the official response will be that those questions on Facebook and Twitter are for promotional purposes only, it's still pretty lame not to be asking those questions on the site itself. As I've yet to see an official response regarding this issue, it remains a concern. If they're actually using the responses from Facebook and Twitter in decision making, I'll withdraw my participation and support entirely.
Pending RecommendationWhile I'd like to recommend you participate in Americans Elect and do so seriously, I am unable to do so in good conscience with the information currently available.
However, I do recommend the site as a curiosity. It's fun to see how your answers compare with the rest of the country, and interesting to see what questions are being asked. Give it a whirl, but be cautious with the information you share with them and even more cautious about believing their stated motives.