From the forthcoming Lex Club Newsletter article, “Petitioning: Methods, Strategies and Tales from the Front Lines.”
Smile when you say that.
It is serious business, but if people think you are having a good time they are more likely to stop. Plus, you have to admit, it is a little funny to be standing on a corner in the freezing cold asking about politics at 8:00am.
Look into people’s eyes.
If you are committed to what you are saying you can pull others into being committed.
Have a quick ask.
You usually only have about one second for people to make a decision to stop when they are walking by you. Ask a simple, short question, i.e. ‘Excuse me, sir/ma’am, are you a Registered Democrat?’ This sets up a logic chain, getting people thinking about politics in that moment. Not everyone knows the local candidates, but most people know whether they are a registered Democrat. If they say yes, most of the time they will slow up. When they slow have a second, short question ready, such as, ‘Do you live in the neighborhood?’
Ask everyone and ask them the same question.
Some people are more comfortable taking a short second to consider and answer if they are overhearing and not being addressed directly.
Average the amount of time per signature
Usually, on a busy corner one signature per two to three minutes or 30 signatures per half hour or 40 minutes is a good rule of thumb. If you are tracking less than this average, you may not be in a high enough trafficked corner.