Monday, February 11, 2008

Political Reform, Lesson 15: Signing Petitions

In We the Purple, I go into considerable detail about the problems all voters as well as independent candidates face when it comes to regulations that apply to those petitions we're sometimes asked to sign. One of the most egregious problems arises when states go to extraordinary lengths to complicate the petitioning process.

Let's say you're at a state fair. It's clear that you're you and not me, because I don't go to state fairs. They're always held on the hottest and most humid days and nights of the entire year. I don't do hot and humid for anything less than an enormous amount of love or money. But I digress.

At this fair there's a booth for a hapless independent candidate for, oh, I don't know, governor or something. Let's call her Candidate X. Well, X is pretty busy talking to potential supporters, and though you'd like to talk to her, you realize it's nearly time for the pie-eating contest. You simply must run. But first, you grab one of the many clipboards containing petition forms and scribble your name and address and whatever other information the state says you have to provide.

Little did you know that the state would later rule your signature invalid. You signed the petition for Crawford County voters, but you live in Craymore County. What's worse, your mistake invalidated every other signature on that petition. I ask you: huh???

But that's the way it goes. Try fighting that one.

Here's another one: you take leave of your senses and vote in a partisan primary. Your independent cronies forgive you, because they've done that and worse. Ah, but the state is not so forgiving. Let's say you come to your senses a month later, find an independent candidate you can support (let's call him Y), and sign a petition backing his candidacy. In some states—I kid you not—your signature will be invalidated.

Some people—that is, partisans—will tell you it's your own fault that your signature was invalidated; you should have known the regulations. Right. I challenge you to research the petitioning requirements in your state. I can just about guarantee that whatever you manage to find out 1) didn't come easily and 2) isn't the whole story. Let me know how you fare, okay?


Shauna said...

Hi Marcia. I discovered your blog from a comment you made on a Denver Post essay and have been enjoying reading through your previous posts. I'm a fellow independent Coloradoan and am really looking forward to reading your book!

Marcia Ford said...

Hi Shauna!

Thanks for commenting. If you're interested, Colorado Independent Voters now has a social networking site:
Please let other independents know about this too. We're scattered all over the state, so an online community will help us stay in touch.
Thanks for your kind words!