Petitioning involves asking voters for their signatures in order to influence legislators and make law. As a petitioner, you will speak directly with the public about what PMA is doing – promoting bills to help limit the influence of Big Money on our political process – and why we’re doing it.
1. asking people to sign our petitions, and making sure that they do it correctly.
2. gathering up the sheets of signatures and handing them in to your petitioning coordinator.
See below for more information on How to Petition.
You should ask people you know, such as friends and family, coworkers, people you know in your church, clubs, and other civic organizations. However, most signers will be people you don’t know – “friends you haven’t met yet.” You’ll probably find that petitioning is fun, and a great way to meet like-minded people.
You can go it alone but you can also join a team! Contact us at 978 808 7173 or email@example.com, and we will direct you to people who are petitioning near you. You can also sign up for our Action-List to see who else may be petitioning in your area.
Please note that the Action List, which is monitored, is intended for sharing information pertinent to this signature drive, such as great events for petitioning, like festivals, or outreach to other petitioners to join forces or trade ideas.
1st, gather your materials: Click here to get the petition forms from our website, and bring the other stuff you’ll need: Here’s what we suggest you bring with you. You could use a sign to attract attention! (Some people like to and others don't.)
2nd, choose a place: Pick a spot where lots of people go. Movie lines and other places are waiting, crowded street corners, and in front of supermarkets and other stores. (If in front of stores, make sure to stand outside the door, close enough to be near the foot traffic, but do not block the foot traffic.) Click here for suggested spots to petition.
Note!! Small gatherings are good for discussions of the issues, and large gatherings are better for getting more signatures quickly.
3rd, ask for signatures!
* Start the conversation in any way that works for you. Some examples we've found useful:
* Ask for their help to get a referendum question on the ballot, or * Get their attention with what the ballot initiative is about, such as "help get control over our democracy," or * Ask if they're a registered voter, then jump quickly to why we're asking! \\ * Ask people where they are **registered to vote,** which may be different from where they currently live. \\ * Provide the petition form for the town they are registered in. If you have one already ready to go for that town, great! Otherwise, use a blank petition form to create one. You do this by printing the name of this city/town on the correct place(s) on a blank petition form. \\ * Respond to questions about that the petition is for. ([[faqs|Check out our FAQ]] for some help.) This will probably be enough for most people. You might say things like: \\ * “We're trying to get Big Money out of politics," * "We're asking voters to sign the petition so that we can put these questions on the ballot in 2020," * "It's not to vote yes or no right now. It’s just to put the questions on the ballot." \\ ==== ====
* **Only registered voters** are allowed to sign. * Signers must sign on the sheet designated for **the correct town** (the one they are registered in): **The town name needs to be on the sheet, in the space provided.** Only voters from that town can sign on that sheet. * Signers must write **the street address where they are registered to vote**. For example, college students may live in Boston but be registered in the town they came from, and so in many cases would be providing their street address from their home town (on a petition form designated for that town). * **No other marks** on the petition form, other than the **signature, street address, and town**: * **Do not** highlight, underline, or write "see other side." * **Do not** put your initials or any other designation on the petition sheets. * **Do not** mark on the petition form itself where you left off from the previous session. Use stickie notes as described below to keep track of your "numbers." * **Do not** scribble on the form to get the pen started. Instead, use a scrap piece of paper. * **If a voter signs incorrectly or makes an error, do not erase or make changes.** Leave the incorrect line intact and ask the voter to sign his or her name and address again on the next line. * **Married females should not sign as, e.g. "Mrs. John Smith**." As with all signers, they need to sign the name that they registered with, for example Mary Smith, instead. Note, though, that middle initials are not required. * **Persons with physical disabilities** may authorize another individual to sign for them in the voter’s presence but one spouse may not sign for the other.
Check out this great video from MassPIRG about the do’s and don’ts of petitioning in Massachusetts. It’s very helpful!
Here's a graphic that you may find useful:
* **Do not try to convert people** if they are against our ballot measure. If they want an explanation, of course, take a couple minutes to talk to them, but if it's taking longer, it's best to give them a flyer (quarter page version) and let them look at it later. They can email and call us for more information as well, at 978 808 7173 or [[mailto:PassMassAmendment@gmail.com|]]. * **Please bring everything** in the [[petitioner_checklist1|Petitioners' Checklist]] whenever you go out to petition. * **Get email addresses if you can** (but on a separate pad of paper, NOT on the petition forms). We are fighting to protect our democracy, and this fight will take years. We need to keep people up to date on our work and the progress we are making. When more people follow our progress, the legislature will feel more pressure! * Please try to remember to **ask people to ask their legislators to endorse PassMassAmendment**. We will need 25% of our legislators to vote YES in 2 consecutive sessions of the legislature. In the Petitioners' Comprehensive Guidebook we've provided you with a list of all Mass. state legislators, including their contact information, as well as the web address for those who need to find out who their legislators are. * **Petitioners have a constitutional right to petition in public spaces,** even if the location is privately owned. (Be sure that you're not obstructing foot traffic, and that are being respectful of pedestrians' and shoppers' "personal space.") The document (below) from Secretary William Galvin’s office explains your constitutional right to petition. We recommend that you read [[petitioner_legal_rights|these documents]] before hitting the streets for the first time. * If a store manager doesn't understand that it is OK for you to petition, show them the documents. If that doesn't do the trick, ask them to call the police. The police can be very helpful. Towns do not want to get sued because the police did not protect your constitutional rights. Just asking the store manager to call the police is usually enough. * If it has gone this far and the police officer asks you to leave, **it's your choice**: If you refuse, you run the risk of being arrested, which we don't encourage. Instead, at any point in this process (prior to being arrested), you can choose to walk away and find a more hospitable place to petition. If you who welcome the challenge of being arrested, we suggest that you consult with a lawyer beforehand.
Organizing the forms in the field can be a challenge. Here are a few suggestions:
* Have the town you are in on the top, with a few nearby towns underneath, alphabetized by town.
* Have other towns alphabetized on another clipboard. * Keep a list of towns that you already have forms for, on a separate piece of paper. This way you’ll easily know if you need to prepare a new form for a town or just look through your clipboard!
To help you report to coordinators how many signatures you gathered that day/week:
At the end of the day, take a stickie note and put an arrow on it. Then place the stickie on the form so that the arrow is on the last signature you got that day. You can also write the date above the arrow, and the next date that you get signatures below the arrow. Do this for each town you got signatures for. Write only on the stickie notes, NOT on the petition forms themselves.
Click here for instructions on what to do with the forms after you’ve gotten a bunch of signatures.
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