Third party petition at RCC

Political activists scattered in front of Landis Performing Arts Center began their campaign to collect signatures for a statewide initiative that would require a third party candidate for all government elections on March 23.

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By Yasmeen Salama / Asst. News Editor

By Yasmeen Salama / Asst. News Editor

Political activists scattered in front of Landis Performing Arts Center began their campaign to collect signatures for a statewide initiative that would require a third party candidate for all government elections on March 23.

Many students have already signed this petition, such as Anna Mendosa who said she wanted to help them out.

But what is this petition about? Who is behind it and why are they on campus asking students to sign?

Though told not to “talk to press,” activist Brent Baker, the head of the petition on campus, was willing to disclose the organization’s name and goals.

He said that the petition is backed by a nonpartisan, non-profit organization called Americans Elect.

He said that the group wants to reach the presidency, requiring by law that there be a third party candidate in all government elections. For him the petition represents a much needed change.

“This country needs change. If this gets on the ballot, it’s a small baby step toward change,” Baker said.

Other petitions have been brought on campus in past years by various other organizations. Baker said that last year 12 of the 13 initiatives petitioned on campus went to the ballot, including legalizing marijuana.

He also said that college students are more receptive to change.

“Colleges are the best place to start with these kinds of things,” he said. “Students are much more willing to listen.”

The activists on campus are not necessarily part of this organization, but are paid a dollar per every signature they acquire.

There is also some debate on whether Americans Elect is actually a third party despite its claims of non-partisanship.

In its mission statement and website, http://www.americanselect.org, the group makes it clear that it is more concerned about nominating its own presidential candidate for the 2012 election than of having just any third party candidate run.

The organization also  operates much like a political party in structure. Having changed its name from Unity 08 and then to Unity 12 before becoming Americans Elect, the group has operated with minimal disclosure of its actions.

The group receives its funding exclusively from Peter Ackerman, the chairman and president of Americans Elect.

The organization’s ambiguity is lawful because it is not officially credited as a political party, allowing it to maintain a measure of confidentiality.

 Baker said that signing the petition does not in any way affiliate students with Americans Elect or cast a permanent vote for or against the initiative.  

If enough signatures are collected, the issue will be on the Nov. ballot for 2012.

 

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