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How Can Petitions Help in Your Political Strategy?

At the core of any political strategy, there is a struggle to engage potential voters. Without amassing a lot of supporters, a campaign can never be successful. There is no better way to bring people together than to give them a common purpose. A petition can make use of this unity to increase your odds of being elected!

Hendrik Giesecke
1/9/2022
4 min readu
How Can Petitions Help in Your Political Strategy?

What are Petitions?

A petition is a document signed by a large number of people to convince the government or a public entity to take action. The document may be filed on paper or digitally.

During an election, anyone can partake as a write-in member. However, for their name to appear on the ballot paper, a candidate is required by law to file a petition with the prerequisite number of volunteers signing it.

The Purpose of a Petition

Although the objectives of a political petition depend on the beliefs of the signatories, it usually serves the following purposes:

·       Nominate a candidate and put them on a ballot

·       Take a ballot initiative

·       Recall officials who have been elected

·       Make or remove a policy

Requirements of a Petition

Unlike online and public purpose petitions, political petitions must meet certain criteria. Each country has its own individualised set of criteria. For example, in the US, the most important criteria include the following:

·       Signatories must be citizens of the US and registered voters. They must also be residents of the area specified in the petition

·       The petition must include certain characteristics to accept its validation: a statement of the facts involved, the point(s) to be reviewed and the action or relief requested

·       There is no hard threshold for the number of signatures, but to get the attention of Congress, 100,000 is the bare minimum

To find out more about how petitions work in the US you can also check their page.

 

Benefits of Making a Petition

A well-composed and sufficiently backed petition can turn the entire voting process in the candidate’s favor. This may be attributed to a number of key benefits:

1.   Mobilization of Supporters

A petition usually addresses an issue common to a large group of people. It provides them with a platform to voice their concerns, thereby forcing those in power to take notice, and hopefully take action.

By signing a nomination petition, volunteers show that they want the candidate to get the visibility they deserve. In other words, it can motivate voters to partake actively in the democratic process instead of just showing passive support.

2.   Legitimation of Beliefs

Every candidate starts a campaign with a unique ideology. Each will have their own plans on how to help the common citizen. A petition can help you quickly engage voters and spread your message.

The number of signatures is a measure of the popularity of your beliefs. In this way, petitions can operate as a source of both validation and confidence for the petitioner. You can think of your campaign strategy as a hypothesis that can be tested through a petition.

3.   Growth of Campaign

From small-town selections to those held for Congress, elections are all about popularity. You should stand out while still being relatable. For this purpose, candidates compete on multiple fronts: CRM, speeches, rallies, talk shows, charity events, press conferences, and meet-ups.

Similarly, petitions are great tools for advertising yourself. Many of the signatories are likely to become donors or unofficial publicizers. In this sense, petitions can help to expand a campaign without any major effort,  while also gaining a lot more supporters along the way!

4.   Pressure Building

Most government-run systems are quite rigid: when advocating for change, you will be met with much opposition and scrutiny. The only option is to put pressure on your opponents while remaining within the limits of the law, which petitions can help you do.

The question of how much pressure will depend on who you are trying to convince and how you want them to act. For example, if you want to convince a congress member to work towards a big goal, e.g., changing a policy, you are going to need upwards of 100,000 signatures.

5.   Participation in Political Process

A petition can be used to call the public to action. Most citizens do not have the financial or influential capacity to make a change. Resultantly, their only option is to insert themselves in the political process and secure a debate on a government platform.

How to make a Petition

The making of a petition will vary a lot depending on factors such as message and scale. That being said, there are still a number of common steps that must always be followed in order to create a successful petition, including:

1.     State the purpose clearly.

2.     List supporting facts and make an argument.

3.     Follow the standard format: the signatory’s name, address, and voter registration.

4.     Collect signatures.

5.     Ask relevant questions from signatories and make changes to the petition accordingly.

Conclusion

If you are a novice running for a public office, keep in mind that a petition might be the best way to make yourself known - getting recognized for your activism and on-field struggle is sure to land you in the good books of many voters!

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