Our American Initiative responds to 2016 debate requirement



CPD Keeps Polling Threshold for Participation Despite Legal Challenges


October 30, 2015, Salt Lake City, UT -- A senior advisor to the Our America Initiative is calling the announcement by the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) that a 15% polling threshold will once again be used to determine participation in the 2016 presidential debates “disappointing but certainly not shocking.”


The Our America Initiative, a nonprofit political advocacy organization, is supporting a lawsuit filed September 29th in Federal Court charging that the CPD’s control of the general election presidential debates constitutes an illegal monopoly and unfairly excludes qualified candidates other than the Republican and Democrat nominees. Plaintiffs in the lawsuit include fmr. New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson, the 2012 Libertarian presidential nominee, and Jill Stein, the Green Party’s 2012 candidate, as well as the Libertarian and Green national parties.


The CPD announced this week that participation in the 2016 debates will be limited to candidates with at least 15% support determined by averaging 5 national polls selected by the Commission itself. This polling requirement was also used in 2012, and limited participation to the Republican and Democrat nominees, despite the Libertarian and Green party nominees having qualified for enough states’ ballots to potentially secure a majority in the Electoral College.


Responding to the CPD’s intention to again use the polling criterion, Ron Nielson, senior advisor to the Our America Initiative, said, “It is disappointing that the CPD is doggedly hanging on to an unfair and arbitrary polling requirement that is clearly designed to exclude qualified candidates other than the Republican and Democrat from the nationally-televised debates. However, it is certainly not shocking, given that the CPD was created by and is, in reality, a product of the Republican and Democratic national parties.


“The real majority in America today is made up of independent voters who do not identify with either of the two so-called ‘major’ parties. Poll after poll shows that voters welcome the participation of qualified independent and third party candidates in the process and would consider those candidates if given a real opportunity. Excluding them from the debates robs voters of that opportunity, and is just wrong.


“Our lawsuit seeks not only to end this unfair and partisan exclusion, but to make the American people aware of the reality that the official-sounding Commission on Presidential Debates is a private creation of the Republican and Democratic parties, and exists to control the debates for their exclusive benefit.”