In order to change the way we govern, we first need to re-imagine our democracy and change the way we elect our leaders. That’s where Americans Elect comes in, and that’s one of the reasons why the criticism of our reluctance to share the names of our donors is misplaced.

Americans Elect, a second nominating process dedicated to obtaining ballot access in all 50 states with more than 5,000 individual donors, does not accept contributions from corporations, labor unions, lobbyists or political action committees.

Unlike the parties, Americans Elect is independent from special interests. Nor does AE support or give money to any candidate or committee. All AE candidates must disclosure their contributions and expenditures through the FEC. As the Press Herald noted in its March 6 editorial, some of AE’s donors have elected to remain private fearing retaliation by the two major parties. The editorial dismisses such fears. But retribution is a real concern in today’s toxic and divided political environment, particularly when the two entrenched parties themselves feel threatened by the very existence of Americans Elect.

Our aim is to increase the competition with a viable third presidential ticket, representing a non-partisan agenda, giving millions of voters the additional choice they want.

In the face of partisan “purity” tests and hostility toward those who buck the party line, we respect our donors’ desire to stand up for more choice without being drawn through a political minefield. And we refuse to fight this battle for a more open political process against parties that themselves are using SuperPACS with our hands tied behind our backs. In order to change the rules, we need to elect people who are committed to doing so.