Tips for Libertarian Activists

Signature collecting for ballot access

Last updated 1994-08-23 by Tom Isenberg

The perfect place to get ballot access signatures is at polling places, on primary election day.

In Pennsylvania, Ken Krawchuk ran for a State House seat. He decided to hit the polling places on primary day with a virtual army of petitioners -- about 20, if I recall. He needed approximately 300 signatures to make the ballot. He got 1000, all on that one day.

Polling places are ideal for many reasons. You can be sure that every person coming up to vote is registered to vote in that district. It gives you a political presence. People are getting hit with handouts anyway, so they expect to be solicited. The response is much more positive than in other, more hostile petitioning situations.

You're also very visible to the opposition parties. The people handing out literature are not generally hostile to other parties. This is just a task for them. From what I've seen, those people are not generally interested in debating the role of government as they are interested in debating what kind of pullover will best keep the rain away. And chatting with the opposition at this very grass-roots level is a good way to find out what they're doing, and how they've become successful. Find out what works and copy it!

Finally, solicitation at polling places is one of the simple tasks that a successful political party will do anyway, and we should get used to the idea of recruiting people to do this kind of work.

One other reason for Ken's success -- he used his kids as petitioners. Who could resist a young girl asking people to sign for her dad? And the youngest kid apparently attracted the press -- she was the one who got the quote in the local newspaper.