In this post you are offered two questions to quickly qualify potential petition signers; plus some simple instructions for the voter, with which to coach them to provide you valid signatures.
Collecting signatures is hard work. Do not get distracted by conversation just because a voter has already said yes, they will sign. The other part of the job is to supervise every signature to ensure you are collecting the validatable signatures which will put our candidates on the Georgia ballot.
Look below for guidance on how best to introduce yourself if you are canvassing door-to-door. Where that script leaves off, these questions pick up. If you have positioned yourself in the flow of traffic, skip the introduction and launch directly into the ask, before a prospective signer walks by you.
The Qualifying Questions
1. Would you please sign a petition to put Green Party candidates on the Georgia ballot?
With this question you have satisfied your oath on the Circulator’s Affidavit that “each signer manually signed his or her own name on this sheet with full knowledge of the contents of such petition“.
2. In what county are you registered to vote?
Their response to this question allows you to comply with the ‘one-county-per-page‘ rule, to choose the correct page for the voter to sign. That is your responsibility as the trained circulator, not their job as the voter. This question improves our validation rates and satisfies your oath on the Circulator’s Affidavit, “to the best of (your) knowledge and belief” both “that such signers are registered electors of the State of Georgia qualified to sign such petition” and also “that they all reside in the county named in the caption of this affidavit“.
Supervising the collection of a valid signature
. . . and, then before you hand over the pen, . . .
3.(a) They ask that you first sign your name on line #___, then legibly print your name underneath your signature;
. . . ok, hand them the pen, but continue to watch as they sign, offering course corrections as needed (voters will acknowledge your instructions without them registering or being reflected in their actions) interjecting as they make progress across the page; . . .
3.(b) the next box asks for your date of birth; then your residential address where you are registered to vote;
Again, referencing your oath on the Circulator’s Affidavit, you will be asked to swear “that their respective residences are correctly stated in the petition“.
3.(c) in the next space, please write: ____________ County; and finally today’s date is: ____________.
This is a numbers game
To confidently get us to 5,250 valid signatures, we need to work our way through this entire script with 10,500 voters. This means, if two of three of those willing to sign are eligible to sign, that we are likely to have asked that second question of 15,750 or more potential signers qualified by the first question as willing to help put Green Party candidates on the Georgia ballot. If one person in three whom we ask to help are willing to sign, we are looking to for 47,250 people in Georgia of whom to ask that first question.
Its a numbers game. The purpose of these qualifying questions is to whittle down those nearly 48k conversations to the 10.5k we need to have to put Green Party candidates on the Georgia ballot.
Every no we hear to our first qualifying question can be politely answered:
Thank you for your time.
Our job is not to argue or convince anyone, but to quickly qualify each person as willing to help, or not; and to help those willing to help to give us the help we need.
A note about going door-to-door —
If you are canvassing a crowd on the street, or the foot traffic in a traditional public forum, the key is to qualify prospective signers before they walk by the opportunity to help you are offering them. The expectations for polite interactions are different when you are canvassing door-to-door.
When you are door-knocking, the person answering the door expects you to introduce yourself. This is the formula developed years ago by canvassers and used to train each succeeding generation of political activists in the craft. Its simple, and only requires four elements:
(1) I am . . .
Good evening, my name is: _______________________.
(2) We are . . .
I am a volunteer with the Georgia Green Party and the Hawkins-Walker Presidential campaign.
(3) We do . . .
Our party offers a political alternative grounded in our values for peace and non-violence, social justice, grassroots democracy and ecological wisdom. The Hawkins campaign stands for urgent action on the catastrophic climate crisis, universal access to health care, nuclear disarmament and an end to our nation’s imperial wars of foreign aggression.
(4) We want . . .
Tonight, we are here to ask if you’d sign a petition so that Green Party candidates may appear on the Georgia ballot in the November 3rd election.
The fourth element of this formula is used to pose our first qualifying question, and an affirmative answer should lead directly into the conversation as scripted above.
The goal is to use this formula to hone a message in your own words, one you can deliver sincerely and authentically, perhaps one adapted from the sample message above, which you repeat to every voting age person who answers the door. Say it all without interruption, pose your (we want) question, then be quiet and listen. Let the person answering the door indicate where the conversation should go next.
Political canvassing is a skill all-its-own. There is much more we can share to help you do this effectively. When going door-to-door, adapt this formula to our purposes and prefix it to the qualifying questions and instructions explained above and you have 85% of what you need to get the job done. The rest is common courtesy, experience, common sense.
Collecting our best practices
Please call our Party officers or our candidates if you feel the need for training or have something to share. If we are going to build this party effectively, we need you to benefit from the best practices we have garnered from our experience and to share your experience to inform our future work on this effort. None of us have ever done this work under pandemic conditions before. Your experience can inform how we train the next volunteer.