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Open Debates 2016 Releases Criteria for Candidate Selection

by Shawn M. Griffiths, published

As previously reported on IVN, a coalition of third party and nonpartisan groups, including the Independent Voter Project, are combining resources in an effort to produce Open Debates 2016. The project, spearheaded by Zack Carter, is an ambitious undertaking to open national political discourse across 10 nationally-televised debates. On Wednesday, January 8, Open Debates 2016 posted the candidate selection criteria for these debates on its Facebook page.’s Nonpartisan Candidate Selection Criteria For 2016 General Election Debate Participation


The mission of the nonpartisan is to ensure, for the benefit of the American electorate, that general election debates are held between the candidates for the office of President of the United States who have met our criteria for inclusion.

The goal of’s debates is to afford the members of the public an opportunity to sharpen their views, in a focused debate format, of those candidates/parties that have been disenfranchised by the Commission on Presidential Debates. In connection with the 2016 general election, will apply two criteria to each declared candidate to determine whether that candidate qualifies for inclusion in one or more of our debates. All criteria shall be satisfied before a candidate will be invited to debate.
’s nonpartisan criteria for selecting candidates to participate in the 2016 general election presidential debates are:’s first criterion requires satisfaction of the eligibility requirements of Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution. The requirements are satisfied if the candidate:

a. is at least 35 years of age;

b. is a natural born citizen of the United States and a resident of the United States for 14 years; and

c. is otherwise eligible under the Constitution.’s second criterion requires that the candidate must have achieved ballot access and/or write in access in a sufficient number of states to win a theoretical Electoral College majority (270 votes) in the general election in order to qualify for debate participation in all 10 of our proposed debates and are not subject to being voted out by the audience.

Candidates who are constitutionally eligible to hold the office of President of the United States who have not achieved theoretical Electoral College majority qualify for an as-yet undetermined number of our proposed debates if they have achieved ballot access and/or write in access in a sufficient number of states to achieve a minimum of 150 theoretical Electoral College votes in the general election. However these candidates may be subject to being voted out of our debates by the viewing public.’s determination with respect to participation in our first scheduled debate will be made by Memorial Day 2016, sufficiently in advance of the first scheduled debate to allow for orderly planning.

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