Frank Fahrenkopf Says Commission on Presidential Debates Will Decide by October Whether to Expand Entry into Debates

Frank Fahrenkopf Jr.

From Richard Winger at Ballot Access News:

On Saturday, July 25, Frank Fahrenkopf appeared on the Smerconish show on CNN. Fahrenkopf has been the most influential leader of the CPD since it was established in 1987. He said the Commission hasn’t decided yet whether to ease the 15% poll rule for entry into the general election presidential debates. He mentioned that the Annenberg Working Group on Presidential Campaign Debates had recently suggested that the first debate should have a 10% threshold. He said the Commission will decide by one year before the first debate. Because the first debate is usually in the first week of October of the election year, that means a decision by early October 2015. See this news story about some of the things Fahrenkopf said.

From the article cited, written by Michael Smerconish:

Peter Ackerman, a successful businessman who cofounded FreshDirect, is a force behind the effort to expand debate participation by changing the 15 percent rule. In 2012, he spearheaded an effort called Americans Elect, which sought to create a national online primary to nominate a “balanced coalition ticket.” While Ackerman succeeded in gaining ballot access, his effort fell short when no candidate received the minimum 5,000 support clicks.

“The rule that was designed by the Democrats and Republicans is impossible to hurdle,” he said.

He sees the current situation as an electoral Catch-22: If you can’t get in the debates, you’re not going to be a legitimate candidate; if you’re not a legitimate candidate, you can’t get into the debates.

“The key element of reform here is moving the designation date from 50 days to six months, and to basically allow the American people to get to know an independent candidate who competed hard for that single position,” Ackerman said.

His current proposal: Anyone who can get on enough state ballots to collectively total 270 Electoral College votes by April 30 will have his or her name placed into a national, independent presidential primary, America’s Primary, featuring a series of five debates with knockout rounds that the American people can vote on via the Internet to determine a winner.

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