The One Mistake Newcomers Always Make
Whether it is your first time running for local office, or you and your neighbors have decided to try to put a proposition on the ballot through a city referendum or initiative, newcomers make one critical error that puts them behind their signature gathering efforts: neglecting the doors.
Though the allure of large signature counts and the visibility of standing outside of a local business are alluring, you are likely to encounter several issues when choosing this method to gather for your campaign:
Validity-A signature gathered doesn’t stand for much if it does not count because of a mistake made that an untrained signature gatherer may not catch in time for the signer to correct it. You can always be as thorough as possible, but you can never guarantee that the information they are putting down will lead to a valid signature.
You waste time talking to people that aren’t registered voters-When it comes to most local/grassroots campaigns, you are looking to gather signatures from eligible voters within a certain region. Whether you need signatures from a city, county, or specific voting district you will run into an issue where you will spend a lot of time talking with people who are either not eligible to sign or are eligible but do not know that personally. Think, if you reached out to everyone you know and asked them which city council district they lived in, how many would be able to answer accurately off the top of their head? Also consider how close you are to other cities, tourism, and other factors that would lead non eligible voters to the area you are in.
You will be limited on where and when you can gather- When gathering signatures at a local business you will find that many of them have policies against people standing in front of the door or wandering the parking lot gathering signatures. Once you do get express permission from a business to gather, they may place limits that could prevent you from getting the windfall day you want to push you towards your goal. Not only that, but you will often be working with smaller businesses/locations that have a limited customer base in your city, making it so one week’s success there can’t always be replicated.
To ensure you get the signatures you need to be on the ballot, knocking doors needs to be your top priority. When knocking doors, you have a voter’s up to date voter file information in front of you. This will help ensure that you are talking to a registered voter in your district and that their information is being written down correctly. Additionally, you won’t have the time restraints like you would at local business, allowing you to gather signatures faster.
If you are a candidate running with a party, normally you will be provided with a file out right, but if you are running an initiative or referendum campaign you will usually have to buy one from the state or another third party. Buying from the state is expensive, but when you buy from a third party, the voter file is usually a lot cheaper. While also providing you with software to help you track how many doors you have knocked, it is definitely the most cost effective solution.
Though site based gathering is a valid form of signature gathering and should have its place in any signature gathering campaign, your chance of success will increase dramatically if you use this to supplement your door to door gathering efforts, not the other way around. At the end of the day this will save your local campaign money, time, and stress come the final turn in day.
However, to ensure signature gathering goes smoothly, it is always best to hire a seasoned campaign manager with expertise in canvassing and voter engagement. The years of expertise, lessons learned, and established connections you get when hiring RPC to gather your signatures will set you several steps ahead right from the start. Our professional campaign management team has a track record of successful campaigns across the Rocky Mountain West, and we would be excited to help you achieve your signature gathering goals.