by Claudia Ellquist, Arizona GP CoChair

Citizens, concerned about the state of the country and the world,  have long used blogs, 501c3s,  lobbying groups, and candidate- endorsement PACs  to reach politicians from the over-represented  parties. But
those politicians have underfunded good works, ignored  good ideas, dismissed citizen demands, and cloned their successors.  In the end, when one has done one’s best good deeds, had a say on the  Internet,
written, called and lobbied recalcitrant lawmakers, and  rated the offerings from the over-represented political parties and  found them to be more of the same, what does one do? There is only  one effective
challenge left: organize as a political party and meet  the other parties at the ballot box.

Our national candidates have it right: The Green Party is no longer the Alternative. It is the Imperative.

It isn’t easy, but it is necessary. As of today, the Green Party can possibly get ballot lines in 38 of the 51 states[including the District of Columbia]. Every state has different challenges about getting and maintaining ballot lines, so there is no one-size-fits- all plan for achieving it. But to not seek ballot status is to reduce  the Green Party to another chat room. So here are a few words about  how Arizona succeeded.

1. We built capacity in the off time, hosted the GP-US Annual  National Meeting, ran local candidates and published critiques of  ballot measures — all to show Greens and potential Greens that a  targeted
effort could lead somewhere, that we are part of a bigger organization, and that there is a reason to act.

2. We counted the cost and created a plan:

–What were the legal requirements? (Look at statutes/ Ask Secretary  of State/ask other groups that are petitioning.)

–How much would it cost to print the petitions? (Get bids from  printers.)

–After the easy signatures, what events could we go to, for more signatures?

–Who would keep the calendar, and the volunteer list, and would  emailthe reminders? (One person in each community.)
–What resistance would we likely encounter, and how would we deal  with it? (Don’t waste time arguing, have a FAQ sheet for sincere  questions. But don’t pass stuff out– those who take lit, do not sign.)
–How many signatures a week, gathered by steady effort, establish  that we are serious, and not wasting people’s time? (Goal plus  cushion, divided by time allotted.)
–Where to go for allies? (Out-of-town caravans/ paid circulators/petitioners for initiatives, or candidates, as the “flip side” rubberbanded to the back of their primary petition.)
–Who keeps count, and what protocol prevents double-count? (No petition is added in until it is in hand.)

3. Then a core of us committed to overcoming our societal barriers, approaching strangers, smiling charmingly, and asking for a favor in the name of democracy. The line I found to be quick and persuasive
was: “Hi, would you sign our petition so that the Green Party can  have our candidates’ names appear on the ballot, and YOU will have  MORE CHOICES on ELECTION DAY.” Many signers were frowning their  reluctance, until I got to the part about them and their choices.  Working in pairs was best, but I set personal weekly goals, to get  me out the door, even if nobody else could go on the night when folks
would be standing in line at the concert hall. I publicly thanked my colleagues, by name and numbers, every week, to keep our pace, and feel the progress.

4. We made shamelessly frequent requests for financial support and  for more petitioners. We provided homestays for out-of-town Greens  and saw that they were hydrated, fed, thanked and made to feel part  of a full-push effort. We paired with them, being right there to back  them up when they ran into snags, and shared the successes. In the  end these Greens made the margin of difference. Several, like Cat and
Danene, were Nader supporters, who were conflicted when Nader went  his separate way, and yet, they stayed and worked hard for our Green signatures. Others were McKinney folks or uncommitteds, who took
seriously our promise, nationwide, to offer her ballot lines. Thanks Charlie, Craig and Brian. Three were candidates themselves– Jesse Johnson, Kent Mesplay, Kat Swift– who paid their own way to trudge
along at our side, asking for signatures.

5. Giving back: We recruited local candidates, so everybody would  ride the shared coattail. We gave money back to the GP-US Ballot  Access Committee, to help the next state. We sent a carload of petitioners to
Texas and planned to send a crackerjack signature solicitor to Utah.

Because we ARE more than an alternative. The Green Party is The Imperative.