Petitioning Tips by Dana Johansen

Petitioning Tips by Dana Johansen

PURPOSE:
Proselytizing? No.
Membership Growth? No.
Ballot Access!

PREPARATION:

  1. Prepare as many boards as you can handle. I like to use 10″ x 15″ pieces of foam board. It is available in (usually) 30″ x 40″ sheets at most office supply stores or craft stores. Some of that large grocery stores may have it. You get 8 boards from each sheet. Cost is about 50 cents per board. I can handle about 5 or 6 of these, but only about 2 or 3 of the store bought boards. These are lighter, and don’t have that mechanism that sticks out at the top. Convenient!
  2. Onto each board, near the top of each side, securely tape the cap of a good quality ball point pen. I find it works best if you tape the tab first, then tape the body of the cap. These become pen holders, and people won’t walk off with your pens.
  3. Determine how many jurisdictions you will be covering. Presidential and other statewide petitions are the worst. You will need a different sheet for each city / county you cover, an within each county / city, a separate one for each congressional district. When I petition for President inside the belt-way, I need 10 different sheets! Arlington, Alexandria, Falls Church, three for Fairfax County, Fairfax City, Loudoun, and two for Prince William County. I also need several blank ones in case I run out of space or find someone from an even further jurisdiction. Yes, it is a pain.
  4. I use ‘Post-It’ tabs and write the district/name on each one. These I place at the bottom of the sheets in staggered order.
  5. I then use a pair of mini size binder clips (you know those black clips with the chrome plates levers) to attach the sheets to the board.

MENTAL:

Most registered voters are willing to be lead into signing the petition. Act friendly and confident. Smile and look them in the eyes. People are VERY gregarious. People will do what the person before them did. Therefore you want to have as many boards as you can handle. If you run out of boards, then someone will walk away without signing. Having started, others will walk away without signing. Take as many as you can handle.

{New comments: We have recently been successful in “double team” petitioning. In this practice, one person who has a good patter (the lead) is teamed with someone (the second) who can’t seem to get the flow of petitioning. The lead get’s a person signing the petition, and leaves the second to complete the deal, getting the sig on the right sheet, getting the second sig when double petitioning, etc. In this way, TWO good things happen. First, there is a second person who would otherwise not petition being productive; and since there is more often someone signing a petition nearby when the lead approaches the next person, the herd instinct helps out.}

VERBAL:

Make it as easy for them as possible.

Except to determine whether they are registered; NEVER, NEVER ask a question that can be answered with a ‘NO’!!! If you ask “will you please sign my petition”, the immediate easy answer is “no”, and you have lost them. Instead, make statements about your need, i.e. “I need your signature..” or “Please sign this ballot access..”. At this point, they either have to think of a reason not to help you, or they can sign. About 1/3 find it easier just to sign.

PHYSICAL:

Place the board in their hands. Hand it to them, make them take it. Get the board in their hands. They seem much more likely to sign if they are already holding the board. Do this while you are telling them that you need their signature. I try to hand it to them as I am saying “this petition”.

BASIC SCRIPT:

“Good afternoon (or whatever). Are you a registered voter in Virginia?”

(If no, thank them and go to the next person.) If yes.

“Great! I need your signature on (or ‘your help with) this ballot access petition.” Place the board in their hands. I can’t stress this enough. Give them the board, get it in their hands, hand it to them so that they take it.

They will usually ask what it is for. Say something like “We are collecting signatures to put XYZ on the ballot in November” I say something like “signing does not indicate support, it just says you believe in democracy and think they should be allowed on the ballot”.

Often they will ask something like who are they (these two people). I say “XYZ is running for OFFICE on the Libertarian Party ticket.” (If I see a bad reaction to the word Libertarian I say “No, not LaRouche!”)

Before they can ask too may questions (i.e. as early in the process as I can) I ask “What county or city are you registered in?” They will usually answer that question truthfully. If they say Alexandria (or Falls Church) I usually ask “Is that Alexandria (or Falls Church) city proper, or Fairfax county”

Immediately turn to that page on the board THEY ARE HOLDING, show them the pen, and begin the line about… “Please sign the first line, print your full name under your signature, put your full Residential address here (no we won’t send you any mail unless you specifically ask for it), date here and put your social security number here
if you please.”

As soon as you see them start writing, get the next board in the next pair of hands. The next person is far more likely to sign if someone is already signing. Keep the boards busy.

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