Every Democratic presidential candidate who wants to be on the March 3, 2020 primary ballot needs your help! Each candidate is required to pay a $2500 qualifying fee to the state Democratic Party and collect a minimum of 500 valid signatures from registered Alabama voters. They have until November 8 at 5pm to submit their paperwork, signature petitions, and checks to the state party.
The paperwork and checks are the campaigns’ responsibility, but the candidates need our help here on the ground in Alabama to collect the signatures. There’s always a push to collect as many signatures as possible, both for bragging rights and because, inevitably, some signatures will be tossed out as invalid. Reasons for invalid signatures include:
- Address on the petition doesn’t match your voter registration address.
- You’re not registered to vote.
- Your information is illegible – PLEASE PRINT CLEARLY!
Most campaigns are just ramping up their signature efforts here in Alabama, but you don’t have to wait to be asked to sign. Download a petition signature form here and get started asking your friends, family, neighbors, and friendly strangers! Never send your ballot petition directly to the state party! We’ll explain why later, but it’s important to stress that.
If you’re still undecided and trying to choose between two or more candidates, no problem. Sign petitions for all of them!
It’s perfectly fine to sign one or more petitions – particularly if you want all the candidates to make campaign stops in Alabama. Nobody is going to waste time in a state where they’re not on the primary ballot. We want Alabama to be a contested state in the primary. Having national Democratic candidates here holding rallies, getting news coverage, helps energize people and bring new folks into the process.
How to Collect Signatures
Most important: follow the instructions! Yes, this may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised by what some people turn in. Remember, most people haven’t seen this type of form before and may be in a rush to complete it – particularly if you’re collecting signatures at a festival, street fair, or other event where there’s a lot going on.
Here’s the candidate petition:
Looking at this screenshot of the petition, it’s easy to see how people make mistakes. The information for each voter is on two lines:
- Line 1: SIGNATURE , Address, County – Make sure the person uses their signature there, not printed. And the county of residence is required. You can fill it in later, but risk the party determining that the form has been altered or corrupted.
- Line 2: PRINTED NAME, City and ZIP, Home Phone, Email – Again, check to make sure that the name is printed and it’s LEGIBLE! Now, the home phone and email don’t have to be legible, LOL, because they aren’t part of your voter registration. Plenty of people will balk at giving that to the candidates/state party – with good reason. They can be “creative” with those two sections, but those are the ONLY ones.
The most common error we encountered in 2016 was that people would fill out JUST the top line with their signature, street address, and county. Then the next person would just start right on the next blank line and print their name, fill in city/zip, and then skip down a line to signature, and street address. You see what’s happened: the whole petition gets one line off. If it happens beginning with line 1, every single signature on the petition is invalid! If it happens in the middle of the page, the signatures above it are ok, but the rest of the page is invalid. What a waste of time and energy.
The solution we found last cycle was to take a highlighter and mark off every other section (see the image above) as a visual cue to the signers. We also made sure to remind the voters that there were two lines to fill out, and then take a second to look over their information before they got away.
How to Submit Your Petitions
A petition form doesn’t have to be completely full to be submitted – although it’s very satisfying to have one! If you can only collect a dozen signatures or even half a dozen, that’s important! Your half-finished page could be what puts the candidate over the top and gets him/her on the Alabama primary ballot.
Never send your ballot petition directly to the state party! You must return it to the campaign because it gets submitted along with the candidate paperwork. Without petitions in-hand, campaigns don’t know if they’ve collected enough valid signature to quality.
We are trying to get state-level contact for each campaign – but it’s harder than you think! It’s only October and most efforts are directed towards Iowa and New Hampshire.
How to Contact Candidates & Find Events
In the meantime, there are a lot of volunteer-led efforts across the state: meet-ups for volunteers, canvassing, petition signing events, debate watch parties, etc. Just search the “Events” sections at each candidate’s site. Most of them have ways for volunteers to take on local leadership and organizing roles. If there’s nothing happening yet in your town, just start something!
Not all candidates have events or volunteer organizing efforts in Alabama yet. These links (where available) are set to search for “Alabama” events.
- Michael Bennett for President “Get Involved”
- Joe Biden for President Alabama Events
- Cory Booker for President Alabama Events
- Steve Bullock for President Alabama Events
- Pete Buttigieg for President Alabama Events
- Julian Castro for President Alabama Events
- John Delaney for President Alabama Events
- Tulsi Gabbard for President Alabama Events
- Kamala Harris for President Alabama Events
- Amy Klobuchar for President Alabama Events
- Beto O’Rourke for President Alabama Events
- Tim Ryan for President Web site
- Bernie Sanders for President Alabama Events
- Elizabeth Warren for President Alabama Events
- Andrew Yang for President Alabama Events
Oh, and if you’re interested in being a delegate to the convention in Milwaukee, learn more about how to become a 2020 convention delegate from Alabama!