Steps towards success
By Brian Bittner
To create a sustainable framework for continued success, the Ballot Access Committee (BAC) needs all registered Greens and all who want the opportunity to legally register as Greens to make a commitment to winning ballot access.
Ballot access is an essential component of the success to which the Green Party strives. Without it Green ranks of elected officials will not grow, nor will the Green Party win higher offices in a number of states. Without it Green membership cannot increase nationwide to provide a real challenge to major-party rule. Without it it will be difficult to maintain strong local and state parties that work with organizations to create an influential peace, environmental, and social justice movement. Without it the Green candidate will not make a strong showing in this year’s presidential election.
None of these goals are possible without Greens across the country raising awareness and funds on behalf of ballot access drives.
Each of the state ballot access drives mentioned in the accompanying article—
Arizona, Hawaii, Virginia, and Pennsylvania—point out techniques for success which the BAC needs U.S. Greens to replicate throughout 2008.
Because of the early timeframe of its petition drive, the BAC was able to focus solely on assisting the Arizona Green Party. As Election Day nears, more and more states are beginning their ballot access drives. The support of state and local Green Party volunteers—some organized by the Ballot Access Committee, some arising independently from the grassroots—was absolutely vital to Arizona’s success and will be the most important factor in getting more Green Parties on state ballots. Volunteers should alert the BAC by completing an on-line form at www.gp.org/committees/ballot/, but do not need to wait for instructions to organize fundraisers, contact neighboring states, and make plans to collect signatures as soon as possible.
In Hawaii, the Ballot Access Committee was able to once again help a state party by providing financial support for grassroots volunteers and a few paid professionals. Without being able to cover travel expenses, lodging expenses, and provide stipends for food and days off of work volunteered by supporters, it is highly unlikely that the Green Party of Hawaii would have been able to win the second drive of 2008.
Funds budgeted by the Green Party of the United States for the Ballot Access Committee are running low as the number of active ballot access drives is increasing. The national party has established an ambitious fund raising campaign to ensure that grants will be available to more states. In February, hundreds of Greens got involved in fund raising for the Arizona Green Party and the Ballot Access Committee. A similar—but bigger—effort is needed now. Make a financial donation at our web page. More importantly, alert your local and state organization to the need for a major fund raising effort and ask friends and party members to contribute as well.
The Green Party of Virginia has taken time at the start of its ballot access drive to create an organizational structure that has netted benefits quickly. Important tasks it has completed include:
• Understanding the law and how to meet state requirements.
• Delegating responsibility to a responsible petition coordinator.
• Maintaining contact with the BAC by seeking volunteers to join the committee.
• Fundraising to support volunteers and paid petitioners, if necessary.
• Holding meetings and outreach events to fund volunteers and distribute petitions.
• Seeking volunteers from within and from outside the state to collect signatures.
The Virginia party has brought in volunteers from both nearby and faraway states for month-long stints petitioning, living with local hosts, and doing additional volunteer work with Greens in nearby Washington D.C. Finding and utilizing the efforts of students, retired activists, and other Greens looking for the excitement of travel and building a new party is a powerful tool for states with less volunteer help. BAC is working to identify volunteers who are looking to travel and help neighbor states collect signatures.
After the exclusion of Green U.S. Senate candidate Carl Romanelli from the ballot in 2006, the Green Party in Pennsylvania is showing the importance of determination in winning ballot access even after bitter defeat. By pulling together volunteer resources to collect signatures and professional resources to defend the party’s action in court, all state Green Parties can be prepared to overcome any challenge. To do this, all Greens must prioritize raising funds and efforts to ensure that all Americans have the legal right to register with the party of their choice.
Help by doing one or all of the following:
• Donate to the Ballot Access Committee. Visit www.gp.org/committees/ballot/ or send a contribution to the Green Party of the United States, Ballot Access Committee, P.O. Box 57065, Washington, DC 20037.
• Donate directly to states that are currently petitioning for ballot access. Contact them through the information in the back of Green Pages.
• Volunteer to help BAC. On that committee’s webpage, an on-line form can be completed that indicates choices of activities to help achieve ballot access, including fundraising and phone calling, blogging and e-mailing, volunteering legal assistance, experienced signature gathering and coordinating.
• Make plans to take a carload (or more) Greens to a neighboring state for a day/ weekend to help them collect signatures. Most states do allow out-of-state petitioners, and there are still ways to help in states where there are laws against out-of-state petitioners.
• Volunteer to be on the BAC if your state party has not filled its complement of members to be on the committee.
• Post an appeal for help to all Green listserves, blogs, and web pages. Include links to pages where party members can make donations, download petitions, and get contact information to petition drive organizers.
• Download flyers and volunteer sign-up forms at the Ballot Access Committee web page. Distribute them at your state and local Green Party meetings. Let the BAC know about past or presence signature drives.
• Ask state party delegates to the Green National Committee to prioritize funding and allocation of more resources for ballot access efforts.
• Join a local ballot access coalition. Many states have coalitions of minor party members; independent candidates and civil rights activists who work for more sensible state ballot access laws. Work to start a ballot access coalition if one is not working in your state.
• Write letters to the editor about one’s state ballot access laws and how they could be changed so they are fair to all parties and candidates.
Updated information about state ballot access drives, fundraising efforts, and the activities of BAC on the website. All the successes to come during the 2008 election season will result from the support of Greens from around the country taking the initiative to fundraise, spread the word, and volunteer in support of our national ballot access effort.