Americans Elect campaign added Utah to its roster of 21 states and they hope to create the first nonpartisan presidential nomination by convincing citizens to vote for the president and not the party.
The American Elect website said they they leave control up to the citizens.
“You decide the issues, you choose the candidates, you nominate the president”, the website said.
On Oct. 24 Catherine Martone, an Americans Elect volunteer from Park City, dropped off more than 4,000 signatures of registered voters to the Lieutenant Governors office, doubling the amount of signatures needed.
Kellen Arno, Americans Elect executive director of ballot access and national field engagement, said Utahns are enthusiastic about voting.
“We are excited by the enthusiasm we have seen from Utah’s registered voters,” she said in a news release. Utah will be one of 21 other states to have ballot access for their popular vote candidate. California and Hawaii are awaiting certification approval.
The petition of Americans Elect allows the group to run as a candidate on the Utah ballot for 2012. The group is not a political party but a channel for people to vote for the next president of the United States and not their political party.
Americans Elect will have a convention in June 2012 for all registered delegates to the site to allow them to vote for who they think should be in the Oval Office. The votes will be counted and by popular vote, the candidate will be placed on the 2012 ballot under the group’s name.
Joshua Whitmore, an accounting major, said he is a registered independent and this is good for people who are outside the two political parties. One of the changes for voters registered to the independent party will be their ability to vote in the presidential primaries. Previously they had to vote for Democrat or Republican in the primaries, which the majority would not do to eliminate support to either party.
“If independents were allowed to vote in the primaries it would cause a tighter race and more thorough evaluation of each candidate,” Whitmore said. “Candidates would need to avoid extremes, and appease to the swing votes (the independents) as well.”
Whitmore said Americans Elect is putting the candidates first and the parties last.
“I think it is a fresh idea that needs to be seriously considered,” Whitmore said. “People should vote based on principles, not parties.”
Mike Christensen, Utah state director of legislative research and council, said the campaign is an intriguing project but it is in the interest of both Republican and Democratic parties to keep this project out of the elections. He said both parties could potentially lose crucial votes to this third running candidate, keeping their party from winning the race.
“It is definitely going to be an uphill battle,” Christensen said. “The other parties will have several months of campaigning and exposure, and we won’t get to know the other candidate very well.”
Christensen said other challenges the campaign will face is getting strength and national recognition.
“The Democratic party has been around since 1828 and the Republican party has been around since 1856, so they both have a long track record,” Christensen said. “It will be hard getting the candidate on the ballot in all 50 states.”
Americans Elect has a lot of momentum before they become a competing candidate which has not happened since 1912 when Theodore Roosevelt ran against Woodrow Wilson as a third party candidate, but Christensen said he is optimistic about the project.
“I am not going to say that it will never happen,” Christensen said. “Maybe I will even get involved. After four years of preparation I will be interested to see their influence in the campaign.”