Tips for Effective Guard Home Petitioning

July 29, 2009
Leah Bolger
  1. Provide good training to your petition gatherers. Make sure they can explain the basic legal argument of the campaign. Give them info sheets and FAQs.
  2. INSIST that signers print. Consider making blocks for each letter to help people be legible. Because this is not a ballot measure petition, you do not need a signature.
  3. Make sure that you get at least a zipcode. This is important for determining what district the signer lives in. If possible, determine the signer’s district number at the time of signing, and record on the petition. Take advantage of this opportunity to make sure signer understands that this is a petition directed towards state legislators, not Congress and explain the difference. Most people do not know who their state legislators are.
  4. Push hard for an e-mail address and/or phone number. Many people are reluctant to give out their e-mail address because they get too much e-mail already, but it is a much more efficient way to contact people down the line when you want to organize a rally, or call-in day. Reassure them that you will not share their info outside the campaign, and will only contact them when necessary.
  5. Summarize what the petition is about at the top, but have hand-outs to give to people with sample legislation. You will probably want to start gathering signatures before your legislation is finalized, so make sure that signers know that your legislation will be similar, not necessarily identical.
  6. Put the names of the sponsoring organizations on the petition, and also the address where completed petitions should be mailed.
  7. Encourage petition gatherers to submit the completed sheets to your state coordinator as they are filled, so that the information can be entered into a database as you go. Suggest putting room for 10 signers per page for easy counting.
  8. Ask people if they would be willing to get involved with the campaign. Make sure you have good contact info for these folks, and let them know that they are not obligated to do anything just because they give you a positive response. There are all levels of involvement: writing letters, making phone calls, lobbying legislators, petitioning, giving presentations, fundraising, etc.