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Starting A Petition

Petition writing isn’t a complex task if you know what you want to say. Petitions are a powerful activism tool, they can help influence the masses and yet it is something that can go largely unnoticed if not utilized correctly.

From reading this, we hope to break down the importance of petitions and how to make yours as effective as possible.

What is a petition?

A petition is a collection of signatures from people supporting your issue. The issues are then presented to decision makers that have the power to create the change you want.

Are there different kinds of petitions?

There are two basic types: Governmental, and Non-Governmental. Here's the difference:

The Governmental petition: These are most often petitions to local government, or sometimes to the county, state, or federal government levels.

  • Some uses of these are to put a particular issue on the ballot, such as through a ballot initiative, or through a binding or non-binding referendum.

  • To support the placing of a candidate for office on the ballot.

  • To recall a candidate from office.

  • To support or oppose proposed legislation or regulations.

Governmental petitions have their own rules - municipal, county, state, or federal, as the case may be. Clear procedures for taking out, collecting signatures for, and submitting such petitions are legally in place. In order for the petition to be effective, they must be followed with little leeway. If they are not, your petition could be declared invalid.

On the other hand, once these procedures are followed, your petition, if it has the proper number of signatures, automatically becomes successful. For example, the initiative or the candidate must legally be placed on the ballot.

The Non-Governmental petition: These are petitions to non-governmental organizations, such as businesses, industries, or private organizations.

  • They differ from governmental petitions in that they vary much more in content.

  • There are few or no official rules for how signatures are collected, or for how the petition is submitted.

  • Once the petition is submitted, there is no guarantee that further action will occur.

Non-governmental petitions are meant to show an organization or person the amount of support you have, grassroots or otherwise. The implication is that a lot of people support your cause and that the recipient of the petition should act on what the petitioners are saying.

How are you petitioning?

The bottom line is your messaging needs to be clear and concise. It needs to be professional to get through the noisy channel that is filled with last minute proposals and sloppy ground work. So before you start, think for a moment, what is my message?

Your title is very important, it is the core of your campaign. Getting noticed is the name of the game so this has to be unique without being complicated. Be specific!
If your petition is to do with an unjust sentence handed down by a judge. Be emotive, use the subject of your petitions name Free Anton or Justice for Anton. These kind of tag lines are simple but effective. It includes a personal touch which always helps.

This is also your opportunity to provide more information about your issue. Give a brief background to why you are doing what you are doing. History works and appeals to many individuals.

Will my petition work?

That’s a tough question and one we always find difficult to answer. Petitions aren’t instant successes. They require lots and lots of leg work.

Now, it could be the growing popularity with improvements in technology or it could be the low cost but over the last couple of months, we have seen an increase in online petitions. Communities and groups live on the internet now and we are always being invited to support some cause or donate to some issue. You may often be left asking yourself, does any of this work?

So, set a realistic ask and a specific target.

This is tougher than it sounds because it requires us to be realistic and make some hard choices. While almost every one of us on here would like to overturn a federal law or petition someone into power, that’s incredibly unlikely to happen.

So what sort of “asks” are realistic? Again, this depends on how reasoned the request, the nature of the request and who the target is.

How many signatures do you need?

That all depends on what your petition is for and what you hope to achieve. The important thing to note is that you need a physical signature for most petitions.

The lead petitioner should decide when he or she has collected sufficient names and submit it to the council/ board for consideration. Most authorities require a minimum of 100 signatures for the petition to become valid.

For e-petitions, the lead petitioner should set a closing date. Once that closing date has been reached, the principal petitioner should then arrange for it to be submitted as appropriate.

So you should now be equipped with enough knowledge to begin your petitioning journey and if you have more questions don't hesitate to get in touch with us here at Ecanvasser.

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