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With Blank Petition and Blank Petitioners, Americans Elect Raises Concern in Fresno

Americans Elect is a 501(c)4 corporation with aims to get on the 2012 ballot in all 50 states and to arrange the election of its own candidates for President and Vice President of the United States. Student journalists at Fresno City College’s RamPage newspaper report that the appearance of Americans Elect petition circulators on campus met with considerable confusion and resistance:

Many are asking questions about the motives of the American Elect petitioners and whether they were the FCC campus under false pretenses.

According to information on the Americans Elect website, the organization’s goal is “for our democracy to be more open and our government to be more accountable to the people.” However, people on campus have raised questions about how “open” and “accountable” Americans Elect is itself.

Michael Guerra, Vice-President of Administrative Services, said, “We require a facilities request to be filed and approved before anyone can set up a table, tent, or other structure in a campus common area.” But Jackson Leroy and Chris Gomez, the American’s Elect petitioners that came to the FCC campus, did not seek or obtain proper permits.

Guerra also said, “We do ask groups or individuals that have not obtained facilities request approval for tables or booths to remove them.” But the Americans Elect personnel were able to set up their tent and table and openly solicited signatures from students and staff of the college. They were not removed or accosted by any FCC officials.

Under their red tent, the petitioners asked students and faculty to sign to support Americans Elect’s cause, but were either unable or unwilling to explain what that was. Their explanation ranged from that they were trying to put a third party candidate on the ballot to that they were trying to support online voting. They would not answer additional questions.

Gerry Bill, retired professor of history, said the petitioners should not be on the FCC campus. Bill said they “were gathering signatures under false pretenses. They were telling people that the petition was to put a measure for electronic voting on the California ballot. In reality, the petition made no mention of electronic voting.”

The petitioners had refused to answer questions from Rampage reporters about their actions. Gerry Bill said that the American Elect organization is known statewide for dubious activities.

What would lead Fresno City College students, staff and faculty to raise questions about Americans Elect’s petition? How about Americans Elect’s petition? A verified, trusted source in California has forwarded blank copies of the Americans Elect petition to me. Click on the thumbnail image below for a higher-resolution pdf scan:

Low-Resolution Scan of Americans Elect Petition for the State of California.  For High-Resolution Scan, see Irregular Times pdf copy

The petition fills a long 8.5×14 sheet of paper with small type, but it contains only one phrase with any description of Americans Elect or what the petition is for: “Americans Elect petition to participate in the primary election.” This is a phrase required by California Elections Code Section 5100c, and it does not accomplish much in explanation. It’s understandable that if petition gatherers don’t answer questions to put Americans Elect in proper context, citizens might hesitate before signing, because they don’t know what it means for them to sign.

According to California Elections Code Section 5100c, signing that petition means quite a lot:

5100. A party is qualified to participate in any primary election…
(c) If on or before the 135th day before any primary election, there is filed with the Secretary of State a petition signed by voters, equal in number to at least 10 percent of the entire vote of the state at the last preceding gubernatorial election, declaring that they represent a proposed party, the name of which shall be stated in the petition, which proposed party those voters desire to have participate in that primary election. This petition shall be circulated, signed, verified and the signatures of the voters on it shall be certified to and transmitted to the Secretary of State by the county elections officials substantially as provided for initiative petitions. Each page of the petition shall bear a caption in 18-point boldface type, which caption shall be the name of the proposed party followed by the words “Petition to participate in the primary election.”

The first piece of information added with the context of Section 5100c is that Americans Elect is, despite its protests to the contrary, attempting to qualify as a political party in the state of California — information corroborated by the California Secretary of State’s public listing of Americans Elect.

The second piece of information we learn from Section 5100c is that people who sign to the Americans Elect petition are “declaring that they represent a proposed party,” namely Americans Elect. And yet, in a curious twist, the petition does not inform signers that they are declaring themselves to be representatives of Americans Elect or affiliated with Americans Elect in any way. How can Americans Elect turn in these petitions in which signers declare they represent Americans Elect when there is no place on the petition in which signers affirm or are told of their status as representatives of Americans Elect? It doesn’t make sense.

Two examples I’ve been able to find that directly display qualifying petitions under California Political Code solve this problem by containing a declaration at the top of the petition. The historical qualifying petition of the Independent Progressive Party place this text underneath the “petition to participate in the primary election” title:

We the undersigned, registered, qualified electors of the State of California, residents of the County (or City and County) of ______ of California, present to the Secretary of State of the State of California this Petition and declare that we represent a political party, the name of which is INDEPENDENT PROGRESSIVE PARTY OF CALIFORNIA…

And the subheader of the qualifying petition of America’s Third Party for the 2012 presidential election reads:

We, the undersigned, registered, qualified voters of California, residents of ____________________________ County declare that we represent America’s Third Party.

The Americans Elect petition lacks this declaration.

I am not seeking to make a legal point regarding the omission of this information about petition signers representing Americans Elect. Indeed, in a call to party qualifications specialist Dierdre Avent of the California Secretary of State’s office, Ms. Avent confirmed that Section 5100c governed the Americans Elect petition, but also stressed that the California Secretary of State does not issue legal opinions on the interpretation of Section 5100c. Responsibility for properly interpreting Section 5100c lies with the legal teams for bodies attempting to qualify as political parties, in this case the Senior Counsel of Americans Elect. County officials receiving petitions will make their own findings about the legal sufficiency of the Americans Elect petition.

My point is not legal but practical: it’s hard to see how reasonable people would know they were declaring themselves representatives of Americans Elect when that declaration is missing from the petition. If people knew they were affiliating themselves with Americans Elect rather than just opening the door for Americans Elect to get on the ballot, how many of them would sign that petition? If the declaration of affiliation with Americans Elect were placed at the top of the petition as in other California ballot access petitions, how many people would ask for more information about Americans Elect first? The absence of this high-commitment declaration from its petition places Americans Elect at a strategic advantage in collecting signatures. It is to the credit of the Fresno City College community that a number of its members refused to sign a blank Americans Elect petition or to follow the suggestions of signature gatherers when both were devoid of information.

33 comments to With Blank Petition and Blank Petitioners, Americans Elect Raises Concern in Fresno

  • Ore

    I really feel bad for the petitioners who are working on this campaign. It is such a chickenshit petition. Other states are in play right now with actual ballot measures, and the pay is significantly better in these states. Most of my friends who were working on this have already abandoned ship and working on campaigns in these other states. I hope all other petitioners follow and boycott this petition.

    As I wrote on the rampage site, the chatter about prohibiting signature gathering on college campuses is ridiculous. This is a blatant violation of the law, no peace officer in their right mind would arrest someone for gathering signatures. The suggestion that voter information can be used for identity theft is equally ridiculous. Why would people go to college campuses to collect information that is already public record?

  • Andy

    “Michael Guerra, Vice-President of Administrative Services, said, “We require a facilities request to be filed and approved before anyone can set up a table, tent, or other structure in a campus common area.” But Jackson Leroy and Chris Gomez, the American’s Elect petitioners that came to the FCC campus, did not seek or obtain proper permits.”

    This story is much ado about nothing.

    It is completely unconstitutional for a college to require a facilities request and require approval on that request before a person can gather petition signatures to register people to vote. There are multiple court rulings which back this up. I have petitioned and done voter registration at numerous colleges around the country (64 of them) and I never begin by asking permission, I just show up and do it. This is how the majority of petition circulators operate. Many colleges do not hassle you at all for doing this. Some do, but the ones that do are violating the Constitution (both federal and state).

    As for the text on the petition, this is quite normal for a petition to place a political party and/or candidates on the ballot. I’ve worked on petitions in 30 states and I’ve worked party/candidate petitions in 22 states. The text on this petition is normal for party/candidate petitions. These type of petitions generally don’t say anything beyond that that petition is to place whatever party or candidate on the ballot. The only state where I’ve worked on this type of petition that had an explanation on it for what the party is about was North Dakota, but that’s because they are the only state that I’m aware of that has a box on their party petitions where the party can describe itself.

    There isn’t much that a petition circulator can honestly say about Americans Elect beyond that it is a new political party that wants to have a convention to chose a Presidential ticket over the internet. The party doesn’t even have a platform beyond this and the candidates for this party’s nomination have not even been announced.

    The artile is really a non-story.

    My biggest problem with Americans Elect from a petition worker stand point is that the pay on it is too low. They are only paying $1.25 per signature on the streets to the petition circulators in California right now. That’s not a good rate. I know they’ve got the money so they should pay a decent rate. This thing could easily be paying $2 per signature right now.

    Americans Elect still has a lot of states to do if they want national ballot access for the 2012 election and I don’t think that they are going to be able to get away with these low ball pay rates if they want to achieve ballot access in all 50 states plus DC.

    • Andy, you’re bending over backwards to recharacterize what the article says. The question isn’t whether American Elect is entitled to petition on the college campus, but whether they’re entitled to set up a tent or table without following the regulations for doing so. That’s a completely different matter, which you fail to address.

      Also, you state that it’s normal for a petition stating that a group is trying to establish a new political party – but you completely ignore that this petition states no such thing, and that Americans Elect claims not to be trying to set up a new political party even as it is taking specific action to do so.

      Andy, are you working for American Elect?

      • Well, he’s reacting simultaneously to the RamPage article (which does try to make claims about whether petitioners can come on campus) and this article (which is more interested in the petition.) My guess is Andy doesn’t work for Americans Elect directly, but might have tried working to gather signatures for the petition briefly.

        Andy, I’d disagree with you that there isn’t anything to know — a fair amount about Americans Elect has come through around the edges. But to the extent petitioner gatherers aren’t able to inform people about Americans Elect, and to the extent the petition itself doesn’t inform people about Americans Elect, why would anyone sign a petition for Americans Elect? Besides the fact that the petitioner gatherer’s cute, I mean…

    • Ore

      >>My biggest problem with Americans Elect from a petition worker stand point is that the pay on it is too low. They are only paying $1.25 per signature on the streets to the petition circulators in California right now. That’s not a good rate. I know they’ve got the money so they should pay a decent rate. This thing could easily be paying $2 per signature right now.

      It seems like APC is going out of their way to pay the lowest street prices in the industry. Ever since they qualified that utility petition at $.70 a couple years back. This wouldn’t bother me so much if they weren’t bidding the same amount of money, but they are. I never thought I would say it, but I actually hope Lee Albright gets all the conservative-slanted petitions in Cali from now on, at least he isn’t pulling this crap on prices yet. I am extremely pissed off at Arno, I hope he fails to qualify everything, which could happen with the significant spike in signature requirements this year. I will boycott his petitions until he pays a fair price.

      • Ore,

        When you say you’re “pissed off at Arno,” do you mean you’re pissed off at Arno Political Consultants, which snagged the contract for ballot access services with Americans Elect last summer, or do you mean you’re pissed off with Kellen Arno, who is both Americans Elect National Field Director and the Vice President of Arno Political Consultants?

        • Ore

          Mike Arno. And Kellen Arno too I guess, but Mike is more the face of APC. He’s making millions off the hard work, sweat, and tears of petitioners. Companies like APC are completely unnecessary IMO. He has been the industry leader in cutting pay for petitioners in recent years, all the while he is charging campaigns the same amount of money he always has, he’s simply pocketing the extra money for himself so he can go play $10,000 per hand games in Vegas with his pal Jenny Breslin.

          I realize this is a null point for you guys on IT, but as someone who is genuinely dissatisfied with the state legislatures of most of the states in the US, it bothers me to see the outragous profiteering going on by the top dogs. My average annual income (from petitioning) has dropped around 40% in the last six years and it’s not due to working less. It’s due to assholes like Arno keeping more money for themselves. You’ve heard that the street price for this petition in California is $1.25 per signature, but APC is probably charging Americans Elect in excess of $5 per signature.

          As for the Americans Elect petition itself, I’m in the same camp as Andy in that I would work circulate the petition if it was paying a fair price (if I was not already in another state working on another campaign I feel strongly about as I am now). I understand your concerns about Americans Elect, but getting more parties on the ballot can’t hurt, the way I see it. I’ve worked on plenty of Green and Libertarian party candidate qualification petitions in the past and would rather work on those as opposed to Americans Elect, but whatever. Something good can possibly come out of this new party. But yeah, I am not going to work on this petition until it pays enough (which will probably start a month before the deadline, because APC will be desperate for signatures at that point as they’re not getting enough signatures at the current price).

          • Andy

            “I actually hope Lee Albright gets all the conservative-slanted petitions in Cali from now on, at least he isn’t pulling this crap on prices yet. I am extremely pissed off at Arno,”

            Lee Albright is just as bad – if not worse – in this regurd. He had the contract on that automobile insurance petition that ran in late 2009 (I can’t recall off hand if it continued into 2010 or not) which paid $1.25 per signature the entire time it was out. His contract was for $3.15 per signature! Talk about petitioners getting played for chumps!

            It seems to me like a lot of the big petition contractors – particularly in California – have been paying out low ball rates for the last few years and that petitioners are getting used like a bunch of suckers.

          • Andy

            “My average annual income (from petitioning) has dropped around 40% in the last six years and it’s not due to working less.”

            I agree with your point here and this is why I’ve boycotted a lot of the low paying stuff as much as I could. It ticks me off how some of these petition coordinators are paying rates that should be considered to be rates from 10-20 plus years ago. There is a thing called inflation which lowers the value of the dollar and increases prices. The price of gas is now around $4 per gallon (higher than that in some places). I don’t want to work for pay rates from 10-20 years ago. $1 per signature is garbage. Anything under $1 is a complete joke. $1.25 is not good either. $1.50 really isn’t even that good anymore.

            These petition coordinators who are paying these low ball garbage pay rates are trying to take advantage of us. The way to beat it is to not work on their stuff when it is paying too low. If enough people refuse to work on these petitions when the pay is too low they’ll be forced to raise the pay or they won’t make the ballot.

          • Andy

            “the way I see it. I’ve worked on plenty of Green and Libertarian party candidate qualification petitions in the past and would rather work on those as opposed to Americans Elect”

            I’m a Libertarian. That’s how I got involved with this stuff. I’m actually not really a mercenary, unlike most of the people in the petition business. I like to work on libertarian stuff (either issues or candidates) as much as possible. I pretty much avoid working on things for which I disagree. I also work on things that I’m nuetral on and/or that I see as not screwing things up any worse than they already are. I consider most of the other minor parties and independent candidates to be better than the typical Democrat or Republican, so I’ve worked on ballot access for other minor party (Green, Constitution, Ralph Nader, and a few others). I consider most of the minor party and independent candidates to be an improvement over most of the Democrats and Republicans (with the rare exception of somebody like Ron Paul). They aren’t likely to win anyway, and if they do win they will probably be better than most of the Democrats and Republicans.

            Do I think that Americans Elect is going to be some kind of great thing? Maybe not, but it’s too early to tell for sure. I seriously doubt that whoever their candidate ends up being will win the White HOuse, and even if they do I doubt they’ll be any worse than the guy that’s in their now or his the guy that was in their before him (note that I’ve got a low opinion of both Obama and Bush).

            Will I end up working on Americans Elect at some point? Probably, but I don’t like the idea of working it for the low ball rates they’ve been paying so far.

            I’ve heard that Ross Perot paid rates of $2-$4 per signature (this was before I was in the business, but I’ve heard about it from people who were around back in those days), and this was way back in 1992 and 1996 (and there’s been a lot of inflation since then).

          • Rick

            I don’t know about the gamgling, but the wife left over eastern european whore hopping and his significant other stateside.
            On the last two petitions Arno has had, he has cheated his workers and lied to his clients.
            His charge backs on electricity were based on a flawed formula (in his favor by 5%-13% depending on county). The more blackstriping a manager did to try to clean it up, the worse they got screwed. Not content with his managers doing his validity skimming for him, he ‘rewarded’ them by hitting them with across the board chargebacks after it was too late.
            On the tobacco tax he refused to file the petition until he was payed “enough to cover the people who stood in front of the stores”. He then scurried away keeping the money for himself and leaving people unpaid.
            In this latest fiasco with Americans Elect, he has already had to refund nearly $30,000.00(opensecrets.org) to Peter Ackerman. While this is not conclusive proof that yet another client caught Arno with his hand in the till,I have never seen a client demand a refund because they had trust in the integrity and/or bookkeeping methods of the consultant.
            His other business ventures haven’t done so well either. His partner Rich Nicholas was arrested at a local mall in a tragic case of mistaken identity. It seems the approchable teenager with family problems he met while trolling chat rooms turned out to be an undercover officer. No one ever figured out the relationship between Rich and Mike, but they did share a fascination with video gadgets and teen trends. It also raises the question as to whether Mike’s tireless efforts to bring a swim center to Rio Americano High School was an act of charity or a cynical ploy to gain access to scantilly clad juveniles.
            For the record I stopped doing his programming because I will not work with people who lie and who’s business practices I can’t defend.
            APC used to be the most ethical company in this industry, unfortunately that ceased with the death of Bill Arno and the return of Linda Petrillo to his bookkeeping department.
            Petrillo is there only because she is a semi-skilled liar. Anyone who has had to deal with her sloppy, lazy, mistake prone work ethic knows what I am talking about. Whenever her incompetence is on display she lashes out like a wounded kimodo dragon in a tone reminiscent of a mastodon stuck in a tar pit. She became even worse several years ago when the bank took away her house because she was treating it like an ATM machine. Just recently she was caught lying to unemployment.
            People in this industry know how to find me and if/when he rips everyone off, I’m still in the data business, and available to testify if necessary.
            All of the above is a matter of public record or personal opinion. Mike Arno has already been informed by a judge in a court of law as to his lack of legal remedy for anything I have written based on the Westborough Baptist Church Decision.

            Just my $0.02

  • Andy

    This story is much ado about nothing.

    I have petitioned and/or done voter registration in 30 states and I’ve done this on 64 college campuses. It is completely unconstitutional for colleges to require people gathering signatures on petitions or doing voter registration to have to fill out a request and get permission before they can do it. There are multiple court rulings to back this up. I never ask permission at colleges, I just show up and do it. The majority of petitioners do not ask for permission. Many colleges will not hassle you, but some do. The ones that hassle you are violating the Constitution (both federal and state).

    As for the text on the petition, this is what petitions to place parties and/or candidates generally look like. I have worked on petitions to place parties/candidates on the ballot in 22 states and the text on the Americans Elect petition in California is normal for this type of petition. The only state where I’ve ever seen an explanation for what the party is printed on the petition was North Dakota, but that’s because they have a box on their party petitions where the party that is seeking a spot on the ballot says what it is about. I’ve worked on party or candidate petitions in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Washington DC, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, Florida, Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, Illinoia, Arkansas, Texas, Nebraska, North Dakota, New Mexico, and Arizona, and none of them except North Dakota had any explanation for what the party or candidate is on the petition. I’ve petitioned for multiple parties and candidates as well.

    Many of these California based petitioners have only petitioned for ballot initiatives (and in some cases, a lot of them have done referenda petitions and/or recall petitions as well), and these petitions have more text on them than a party petition or a candidate petition, and since many of these petitioners have never worked on a party or candidate petition before this they aren’t used to the fact that this type of petition doesn’t have as much text on it.

    As for what the petitioners are saying about Americans Elect, there really isn’t much that they can say beyond that it’s a new political party and that they plan to have a convention over the internet to nominate a presidential ticket. The party doesn’t even have a platform beyond that and it won’t have one beyond that until they nominate a candidate, and the candidates for their nomination have not even been announced yet. These petitioners aren’t lying or concealing anything, there just isn’t much that they can say about it because that’s all that is known about it.

    My biggest problem with Americans Elect right now from a petition workers standpoint is that they aren’t paying that enough. They are currently paying $1.25 per signature in California which is not that good a rate. They could easily be paying more than this. This thing could be paying at least $2 per signature.

    Americans Elect still has a lot of states to do if they want to get on the ballot in all 50 states plus DC for the 2012 election and I don’t think that they are going to keep getting away with paying low ball rates to the petition circulators if they want to achieve national ballot access.

  • Andy

    “What would lead Fresno City College students, staff and faculty to raise questions about Americans Elect’s petition?”

    Their complete ignorance about the petition process.

  • Andy

    “The second piece of information we learn from Section 5100c is that people who sign to the Americans Elect petition are “declaring that they represent a proposed party,” namely Americans Elect. And yet, in a curious twist, the petition does not inform signers that they are declaring themselves to be representatives of Americans Elect or affiliated with Americans Elect in any way. How can Americans Elect turn in these petitions in which signers declare they represent Americans Elect when there is no place on the petition in which signers affirm or are told of their status as representatives of Americans Elect? It doesn’t make sense.”

    There is no big mystery here. As I said above, this same type of wording (such as, “intending to organize a political party”) is on this type of petition in many states. This is not Americans Elect’s fault. It is the state government that comes up with the petition forms and they are the ones who are responsible for the wording on the petitions.

  • Andy

    “Andy, you’re bending over backwards to recharacterize what the article says. The question isn’t whether American Elect is entitled to petition on the college campus, but whether they’re entitled to set up a tent or table without following the regulations for doing so. That’s a completely different matter, which you fail to address.”

    I thought that I was clear, but yes, I am saying that the petitioners are entitled to set up a table and gather petition signatures at a college campus without filling out any BS forms or getting anyone’s permission. The college officials are engaging in unconstitutional behavior. It is standard operating procedure for petitioners to just set up and start working without begging anyone for permission at a college. I don’t know any petitioner who would have begged for permission first, and this is regardless of what petition they were working.

    “Also, you state that it’s normal for a petition stating that a group is trying to establish a new political party – but you completely ignore that this petition states no such thing, and that Americans Elect claims not to be trying to set up a new political party even as it is taking specific action to do so.”

    The petition looks similiar to petitions in other states to place parties or candidates on the ballot. If the petition was not legally correct the California Secretary of State’s office would not have released it for circulation.

    “Andy, are you working for American Elect?”

    No. I haven’t worked on this petition (yet), nor have I worked on any Americans Elect petitions in any other state (yet). I might work on this petition to qualify Americans Elect in California and/or in some other states in the future though.

  • Andy

    “My guess is Andy doesn’t work for Americans Elect directly, but might have tried working to gather signatures for the petition briefly.”

    I’ve looked into working on Americans Elect petitions but I haven’t done it yet, because I didn’t think that they were paying enough money to the petition circulators, and because I found other projects that were for that which I enjoyed working on more.

    “Andy, I’d disagree with you that there isn’t anything to know — a fair amount about Americans Elect has come through around the edges. But to the extent petitioner gatherers aren’t able to inform people about Americans Elect, and to the extent the petition itself doesn’t inform people about Americans Elect, why would anyone sign a petition for Americans Elect? Besides the fact that the petitioner gatherer’s cute, I mean…”

    The only thing that the petition circulators have been told is that Americans Elect is a new political party that wants to nominate a presidential ticket via an internet convention. The majority of them don’t know anything beyond that.

    People would sign the petition because they want to allow another choice on the ballot. This gives people another option outside of Democrat and Republican. Many people wish are sympathetic with minor parties and independent candidates (even if they don’t always vote that way). They figure that that Democrats and Republicans have created all of the problems we have so they should give somebody else a chance. They figure that they can’t be any worse than the D’s and R’s.

  • Brad

    Andy, you say “It is standard operating procedure for petitioners to just set up and start working without begging anyone for permission at a college. I don’t know any petitioner who would have begged for permission first, and this is regardless of what petition they were working.”

    I think you are wrong on this one. Small details, but setting up tables and booths versus simply standing there are two totally different approaches. Many universities and municipalities allow you to petition in certain places, but setting up a table or booth requires requesting permission. My hometown of Houston, Texas requires this for setting up tables or boothes in public parks to petition.

    Your “ask for forgiveness later” approach is probably more expedient, but it just sounds like you don’t like administrative hassle.

    • Running an election on a “ask forgiveness later” approach to obeying the rules certainly isn’t an approach we should applaud in a political organization.

  • Andy

    “I think you are wrong on this one. Small details, but setting up tables and booths versus simply standing there are two totally different approaches. Many universities and municipalities allow you to petition in certain places, but setting up a table or booth requires requesting permission. My hometown of Houston, Texas requires this for setting up tables or boothes in public parks to petition.

    Your “ask for forgiveness later” approach is probably more expedient, but it just sounds like you don’t like administrative hassle.”

    I don’t ask for forgiveness. Why should I or anyone else who is practicisng their 1st amendment RIGHTS ask to be forgiven. I don’t need anyone’s permission to excercise my rights, and I’m sure not going to beg somebody’s forgiveness for this either.

    We have every legal and moral right to engage in 1st amendment activities.

    • Brad

      “beg for permission…beg for forgiveness”?!

      I like your rabblerouser attitude, but c’mon following a few rules here and there is not a trampling on your 1st amendment rights. IMO.

  • Andy

    “I like your rabblerouser attitude, but c’mon following a few rules here and there is not a trampling on your 1st amendment rights. IMO.”

    I am talking about following the rules. These rules are written in the 1st amendment to the US Constitution and they are also written in various state constitutions.

    The right to petition in places where the public has access is clearly established in California. This is backed up by several court rulings and a lot of the cops already know about it.

    It is standard operating procedure in California on any petition or voter registration drive for petitioners to do what the two petitioners working on Americans Elect at that college in California mentioned above did, which is to plop right down without asking any “authority” for permission and to start asking for signatures. I’ve been involved in petitioning for close to 11 years and I know many petitioners, and this is what we all do.

  • Andy

    “I think you are wrong on this one. Small details, but setting up tables and booths versus simply standing there are two totally different approaches. Many universities and municipalities allow you to petition in certain places, but setting up a table or booth requires requesting permission.”

    Your whole tone seems to not indicate that you understand what an unalienable right is. Unalienable means that nobody can put a lien on your rights, as in take them away or infringe on them. Free speech, and more specifically, gathering signatures on petitions is an unalienable right.

    If a city “requires” you to get a permit they are doing something that they’ve got no authority to do. Free speech is a RIGHT, NOT a privaledge. Requiring permits or filling out some stupid forms indicates that free speech is a privaledge and that they somehow have authority over it, which they do NOT.

    It doesn’t make any difference if you have a table either, as long as you aren’t blocking any doors. If people have space to get around you then your table changes nothing.

  • Andy

    The only time I’ll ever ask for permission (which I don’t like doing) is if I’m in a place where petitioning in front of stores has not been deemed as legal. There are court rulings which indicate that corporate property which is open to the public is still fair game for free speech activities, however, these court rulings are not being enforced in most states. There are a few states where they are enforced, or mostly enforced, and therefore we petitioners don’t ask for permission in these places.

    Sometimes there will be a truly private place where I’ll ask for permission, but these places are few and far between.

    Often times when we are in states where our rights aren’t being enforced, we try to get permission at certain locations and we usually get denied. So at this point when we get desperate for signatures we do the “gueirilla method” at suck locations, as in we show up and petition until somebody chases us off.

    Petitioning at what is clearly known to be public property is supposed to be legal in every state. So we don’t ask for permission at these places at all. Unfortunately our rights are not always backed up in these places like they should be.

    If everyone tried to get “permission” at every place – whether there is any legal or moral basis for it or not – then a lot fewer things would get enough signatures to qualify for the ballot.

  • mellany whichard

    I am on this website because I am seeking a job. I would appreciated to be called at (626) 304-9694. I am interested in starting immediately. Mellany Whichard

  • Andy

    “ITimes says:
    5/9/2011 at 1:33 pm
    Running an election on a ‘ask forgiveness later’ approach to obeying the rules certainly isn’t an approach we should applaud in a political organization.”

    The very approach which I’ve described above is how most petitions in general obtain enough signatures to qualify for the ballot.

    • Um, Andy, what you’re saying is that Americans Elect intends to work according to the terrible low standards of the political status quo. So, what’s the point of having Americans Elect? Really, it doesn’t sound like much of a reform organization to me.

  • Andy

    “J. Clifford says:
    5/11/2011 at 7:22 am
    Free speech is not the same thing as the freedom to put a table or a tent wherever you want to.”

    If the table or tent is not blocking traffic then it is an irrelevant issue.

  • Andy

    “J. Clifford says:
    5/11/2011 at 7:19 am
    Um, Andy, what you’re saying is that Americans Elect intends to work according to the terrible low standards of the political status quo. So, what’s the point of having Americans Elect? Really, it doesn’t sound like much of a reform organization to me.”

    It sounds like you’ve got little to no expierence working on petition drives. What the petitioners are doing on Americans Elect in California is the same thing that happens on every petition drive.

  • Kathy

    I am thinking of doing this petition thing. Im new to petitioning. What do they mean above when they say signing this will mean we represent this party? Isnt that term meaningless. It doesnt mean we have joined their party?, right. I mean if Im already with the party then I would have to officially change my party, right?

  • Andy

    “What do they mean above when they say signing this will mean we represent this party? Isnt that term meaningless. It doesnt mean we have joined their party?, right. I mean if Im already with the party then I would have to officially change my party, right?”

    Yes, it is meaningless. Signing this petition or gathering signatures for this petition does not mean that you are joining or voting for this party.

  • Tikuanyin

    the only person worth paying attention to here is Andy, and I almost want to say you’re wasting your time Andy talking to IT and other respondents who are to clearly ill informed. But you’re not wasting your time because I am working this petition and you’re input clarified a lot about the process especially the brief explanation at the top of the petition on the AE drive. I am also very interested in the information re Arno or the Arnos. This is my first experience in this field. I don’t care too much about their personal lives but if they’re crooked and burning their employees, that’s reprehensible and I will be seeking other petition circulating options.

  • Bruce

    They were gathering signatures at City College of San Francisco yesterday, and they’re LIARS. They said signing it was for electronic voting in the primaries..they made it sound like a ballot measure. When I asked to see the language of the ballot measure, they said, “oh, go to americanselect.org”. They did share that they get $1.50 per signature. Great: a new political party bankrolled by secretive billionaires. Just in time to help throw the 2012 election, a la Nader in 2000. (Nader: 90,000 votes in Florida; Bush/Gore margin: 500 votes). You can be sure that AE will get lots of lapdog corporate media attention as a “serious contender”.

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