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Online Third Party Nomination Process Throws in the Towel

An online group called Americans Elect did what few others have managed in North Carolina by collecting enough signatures to put a third-party presidential candidate on the ballot in November. But now, it seems the effort was for naught. Collecting the required signatures to get on the ballot is often the biggest hurdle for candidates who don't belong to the two dominant parties. The grand plan of Americans Elect was to jump that hurdle for a presidential candidate not beholden to any political party who could sweep in and salve the souls of disenfranchised voters tired of partisan bickering. "They got themselves on the ballot, they just didn't have anybody to put on the ballot when the time came," says Catawba College political science professor Michael Bitzer. Americans Elect announced this week it was unable to find a candidate who could meet the criteria required to get the group's nomination. They did set the bar pretty high - only candidate who demonstrated a certain level of national support from the group's online delegates and promised to choose a running mate with opposing political views would get the Americans Elect nomination. Not even the most popular candidate on the website Republican Ron Paul - could meet both of those criteria. Part of the problem is voters often say they're independent, says Bitzer, "but when you push them, they'll go back to one of those two political parties." "So it's a tough mountain for any kind of third party - with the rules of the game and everything else they've got to confront - to actually have an impact on the larger political environment." Americans Elect expected to spend $30 million drumming up signatures to get on the ballot in all 50 states. They got about half way before throwing in the towel. And no, Americans Elect can't just hand over its North Carolina spot on the ballot to Ron Paul or someone already running as a third-party candidate. The North Carolina elections office says the spot can only be used by candidate who is formally affiliated with Americans Elect and nominated through a convention.