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Veteran Libertarian Petitioner Collects 510 Illinois Signatures in One Day

Published on April 30, 2010, by in General.

Eric Dondero has been petitioning for twentyfive years, mostly for the Libertarian Party. He says that on April 30, he hit a new record number of signatures collected in one day, at Southern Illinois University, for the statewide Libertarian Party slate.

Only people who have themselves petitioned will truly understand how tough it is to collect 510 signatures in one day.

36 Responses

  1. Nit picking:

    Edwardsville campus near Saint Louis [Missouri] and East Saint Louis ?????????????

    Carbondale [Main Campus] ‘way down south’ ???????????

  2. Bergermeister

    That is a huge number of signatures in one day! Great job. Hopefully people will have real choice in November! Keep going!

  3. Gary L. Fincher

    This is nothing. Four years ago, I collected 530 signatures for the Libertarian Party while SIMULTANEOUSLY getting EACH signer to ALSO sign a petition for the Constitution Party (1,060 total signatures).

  4. Andy

    “Gary L. Fincher Says:
    April 30th, 2010 at 8:42 pm
    This is nothing. Four years ago, I collected 530 signatures for the Libertarian Party while SIMULTANEOUSLY getting EACH signer to ALSO sign a petition for the Constitution Party (1,060 total signatures).”

    It should be pointed out that Gary did NOT do this in Illinois, where it is illegal to gather petition signatures for more than one party/candidate.

  5. Alvin Anders

    I gathered 630 in a day for the LP at the world’s largest garage sale in South Bend Indiana. I also gathered 1400 in one day for terms limits, 700 for state and 700 for federal, at a WalMart in WV.

    Bill Redpath gathered 900+ in a day for the LP on election day at a polling location on a campus in North Carolina.

  6. Gary L. Fincher

    I also gathered 514 signatures in just a 6 hour period at a beach in New York City for the LP, and I did forget to add my 1100 I gathered for candidates in one day at a Wal Mart in Fargo ND.

  7. I admit, this is not the all-time record or a Libertarian petitioner. But it is a personal all-time record or me. And I both extremely happy, and completely burned-out today.

    Would my fellow pro-petitioners understand if I took a day off and just went to the movies all day?

  8. Deciding who is the greatest petitioner of all-time is a bit dicey.

    The Legend of course, is Sevier White from Oklahoma, who is said to have gathered 1,200 signatures in the NY Subways for the Libertarian Party in the early 1990s. They say he’d get on an orange crate, and pass out boards, and demand that everyone sign.

    There’s also Russell Bagget, also from Oklahoma. They say Russell used to routinely get over 1,000 a day for Paul Jacob and Term Limits. But there’s a catch. He’d have his two daughters pass boards around. So, it was more like 3 people petitioning.

    Scott Kohlhaas is way up there on the List. He’s a Legend for sure. He’d pull numbers like 70 to 80 and hour. Problem is Scott would always burn out in a few hours. He had no longevity.

    Al Anders, same problem. He’s a Workhorse for sure. But he lacks in the longevity department. Plus, he’s easily distracted.

    I think Darryl Bonner probably holds the title of BEST PETITIONER IN THE UNITED STATES. Arenza Thigpen is probably 2nd.

    I’m a lot like Arenza. I’ve got longevity and consistency.

    Even if it’s raining I’ll go out with an umbrella and get the sigs, even if it’s just 40 to 50. That’s the mark of a fantastic petitioner, according to Kolhaas.

    So, I guess I’d put myself as #3 Best Petitioner in the Country.

    #1 in reliable and consistent.

  9. Fincher, in North Dakota EVERYONE is automatically registered to vote. So, all you have to do is ask them to sign; not limit it to registered voters.

    So, that number above you cite is skewed.

    510 signatures for a single issue is a very high number. It’s easy to get bigger numbers when you’re carrying two issues.

  10. Nice job, Eric. I’ve been going around my neighborhood getting signatures in support of single payer and I’ve been getting about 5 a day :/

  11. Ross, trick is to smile and express an attitude of great confidence, like “I know you’re going to sign.”

    And always frame it, “can you help us out with a quick petition signature… you don’t have to support it, just give us the right to get it on the ballot.” Most people will buckle at that point and sign, regardless.

    Though, I was up at Univ. of Illinois – Champaign last week, and the Socialists there would respond, “Well, I don’t even want you Libertarians on the ballot.” Ouch!

  12. Jeff Becker

    Nice job Eric and everyone else. This is ENCOURAGING NEWS. My best was 350 in about 4 hours at an entrance line to an arts & crafts fair at the county fairgrounds. Multiple “clip”boards (I use corrugated cardboard and rubber bands since it is lighter than masonite and stackable without the clips).

    Six boards is the max I can keep track of while keeping the county sheets straight and give instructions to six different people.

    Door-to-door in places where houses are close together with sidewalks I typically get 10/hour. Best times are weeknights 5-8pm. Well, gotto go – I should be out now petitioning for Phil Hudok for US Congress, WV.

  13. Casual Bystander

    With petitioners like this there IS hope for America! Good job everyone! I’ve done it myself and it is no picnic. You sure have to have good self esteem to survive all the rejection and worse!

  14. Alvin Anders

    Actually, when I am petitioning, I am not easily distracted. I do admit to not being motivated to go out day after day to put candidates on the ballot who only get 1-3 percent of the vote. However, give me a good issue, like marijuana reform, and I excel.

    Scott Kohlhaas is a great petitioner with excellent work ethic. As for someone who is dependable to go out every day un til he has gotten his quota, he is as good as any, if not the best.

    Sevier White, was a workhorse as well. He would start early and stay late. The New York subway story was verified to me first hand by Ken Bush who was with him.

    As for whom I consider the best petitioners for the LP, my ranking is as follows.

    1 Andy Jacobs, has Scotty’s tenacity, and Darryl Bonner volume. Plus he does an excellent job articulating the LP philosophy and will often pass out LP literature at his own expense.

    2 Scott Kohlhaas, reliable, and a good articulator of our philosophy as well.

    3 Gary Fincher, a very strong producer, with great validity, also does a first rate job explaining our philosophy and frequently provides literature at his own expense. Main drawback, has bad luck with thugs with badges.

    4 Darryl Bonner, my only knock with Darryl is that he will sell the LP expediently by articulating an issue or two but not, to my knowledge, the underlying philosophy. He is however a workhorse who is extremely dependable.

    I have not had the pleasure of working with Arenza, Sevier is retired. And since this is a ranking of LP petitioners, I stand by my list.

    As for myself, I remain capable of hitting for large numbers, but I am not a great LP petitioner because I haven’t motivated myself to go out every day and grind out the numbers that a true greatest petitioner can do. Moreover, I have worked side by side all four of my top LP petitioners and all of them have beat me on an per hour standard. I can come close, but I would bet, if all things were equal, that all four of those on my list would get more signatures in an hour than I.

    My great numbers came because I hit a great venue early and stayed late. And in every case, I took the next day off (and maybe the next several).

  15. ETJB

    I have some idea of how difficult the petitioning process can be, although I was not familiar with the legendary petitioners.

    In MN, the time frame allotted for an Independent or third party candidates is two weeks in the summer, when [most] students are not on campus and many people are visiting a different district [if not state] then their own.

    Yes, North Dakota does have a voter registration process. sort of. Basically, they [polling worker]
    can ask anyone to submit 2 proof of eligibility and ask them to sign a legal document.

  16. Richard

    Thanks again to Eric Dondero for having e-mailed me his original account, which turned into a blog post with a very enjoyable string of comments.

  17. Yes, very interesting!

  18. well I hope it does not ruin his life.

    When Peace and Freedom (of California) was getting back on the ballot SUCCESSFULLY and the SUCCESSFUL Governor Gray Davis recall, my minor petition gathering (I can not even count up to 510!) got the attention of California State Chair Jeff Rainforth. He contacted me for the Deform Party! A phone call I wish I had not taken! Oh well!

  19. Andy

    “1 Andy Jacobs, has Scotty’s tenacity, and Darryl Bonner volume. Plus he does an excellent job articulating the LP philosophy and will often pass out LP literature at his own expense.”

    Wow, thanks for the recognition Al!

    “2 Scott Kohlhaas, reliable, and a good articulator of our philosophy as well.”

    Scott Kohlhaas is a good petitioner, however, the big drawback with him is his dishonesty/lack of integrity as a petition coordinator and fundraiser.

    “3 Gary Fincher, a very strong producer, with great validity, also does a first rate job explaining our philosophy and frequently provides literature at his own expense.”

    Gary does an excellent job of explaining Libertarian philosophy, but unfortunately, him getting screwed over on several occassions by people who call themselves “Libertarians” has left a sour taste in his mouth for the Libertarian Party, a party he once proudly called his home, so he doesn’t do as much proselytizing for the Libertarian Party as he used to do. This is a shame and is an example of bad “activists” driving out the good ones.

    “Sevier White, was a workhorse as well. He would start early and stay late. The New York subway story was verified to me first hand by Ken Bush who was with him.”

    I met Sevier White on my 3rd petition drive which was in Arizona back in 2000. The petition was to place the Libertarian Party’s Presidential candidate Harry Browne on the ballot as an independent. This was due to a split in the Arizona LP where the faction that had ballot status decided to put L. Neil Smith on the ballot for President instead of Harry Browne. This petition drive was conducted after the deadline to place an independent candidate on the ballot in Arizona but it was thought that this deadline could be overturned in law suit. Unfortunately, the law suit failed to put Harry Browne on the ballot in Arizona for that election. Anyway, I never saw Sevier petition but I did talk to him a little bit. He said that he was going to drop out of the petition business and he must have because I’ve never heard of him working on any petition drives since then.

    I also met Scott Kohlhaas and Ron Crickenberger on that petition drive in Arizona (although I’d talked to Crickenberger on the phone a few times before that). In addition to Sevier White, Scott Kohlhaas, and Ron Crickenberger, I also met Al Anders’ sister Kaye (NOT be be confused with the late Libertarian petitioner and wife of Gary Fincher who had the same name) on that petition drive.

    Main drawback, has bad luck with thugs with badges.”

  20. Andy

    “Main drawback, has bad luck with thugs with badges.”

    Gary has been arrested and/or detained by cops for petitioning a few times, but this is not uncommon as quite a few people who’ve done lots of petitioning have been arrested or detained. Pretty much everyone who has done a lot of petitioning has had nasty run ins with the police as well as security gaurds, store managers, and government beauracrats. I’ve had many such nasty run ins with “authorities” myself, including yesterday when I got hassled at a festival by a security gaurd and a cop. I’ve never been arrested, but I’ve come close on several occassions. I don’t think that Gary having been arrested a few times for petitioning is a drawback as it is more of a sign that we have a government that does not respect the 1st amendment than anything else.

  21. Andy

    “Alvin Anders Says:
    May 1st, 2010 at 4:02 am
    I gathered 630 in a day for the LP at the world’s largest garage sale in South Bend Indiana. I also gathered 1400 in one day for terms limits, 700 for state and 700 for federal, at a WalMart in WV.”

    I recall hearing about this when I was in Alabama. Apparently this garage sale starts in Alabama and goes all the way up to Indiana.

  22. Andy

    Eric Dondero said: “Even if it’s raining I’ll go out with an umbrella and get the sigs, even if it’s just 40 to 50. That’s the mark of a fantastic petitioner, according to Kolhaas.”

    I’ve done that before (although I don’t like doing it). I did that a few times during a ballot initiative petition drive in Washington back in 2003.

    I’ve also got a reputation for being weather durable, petitioning for long hours in extreme summer heat in places like California, Arizona, and Alabama, and also petitioning in freezing cold winter weather in places like South Dakota, Illinois, Indiana, and Pennsylvania. I actually petitioned in heavy snow storms in South Dakota and Pennsylvania. I don’t really enjoy doing this, and I of course prefer to be in situations where the weather is nice when possible, but I’m just pointing out that I’ve done the petitioning in really bad weather thing on many occassions and people have been amazed by my weather durability.

  23. Andy

    One of my best days in terms of numbers of signers was in Pennsylvania on LP ballot access in 2008 when I got 400 signatures that day. Now 400 signatures on one petition in one day is really, really good, but it is not as impressive as the numbers mentioned above. However, there is something that makes this number more impressive than it sounds and that is that I gathered those 400 signatures in only 4 hours. That’s an average of 100 signatures per hour, and I can tell you that that is some pretty intense petitioning.

    I worked a festival during a Libertarian Party petition drive in Ohio in 2007. Unfortunately I got there late both days so I did not get as many signatures as I would have had I gotten there earlier. The first day that I was there was a Saturday and I arrived at the festival shortly after I had arrived in the state to work on the petition. I had planned to be in Ohio sooner but I got delayed due to some circumstances which were outside of my control. Anyway, the festival started in the morning but I didn’t arrive until the late afternoon, yet I still managed to pull down 365 signatures in less than 5 hours. There were some volunteer petitioners from the Libertarian Party of Ohio who were petitioning around me, yet I gathered more signatures than all of their volunteers combined. I overslept the next day didn’t make it to the festival until the afternoon again, and to make matters worse the festival shut down earlier on Sunday then it did on Saturday, yet I still managed to pull in well over 300 signatures. If I had arrived at that festival in the morning right when it started I’d probably be here talking about those two days in Ohio when I pulled down super-monster numbers, like 700 or 800 signature days or something like that if you extrapolate the numbers that I was pulling down per hour over a longer period of time.

    I was the top petitioner out of the San Fernando Valley petition office during the Grey Davis Recall petition drive in California back in 2003. I produced 10,000 signatures with high validity in 7 weeks. There was one week where I turned in exactly 1,000 signatures and after the coordinators ran a validity check on them they only found one bad signature. That’s a 99.9% validity rate.

    I recently did a turn in to a petition office in San Diego where my validity rate was 100% (as in the coordinators did a validity check and did not find any bad signatures). It was not a large batch of signatures, but still, a 100% validity rate is considered to be very impressive and I was comended for this by the San Diego petition coordinators.

    Validity rate is actually one of the most important things for a petitioner. A petitioner can get lots of signatures, but if their validity rate is low then most of them can or will be disqualified. A siganture can be disqualified for a varieity of reasons, such as:

    1) A signer is not registered to vote.

    2) The signer is registered to vote but they do not fill in the correct address where they are registered.

    3) The singer signs the wrong page, as in the petition is in a state where the signatures have to be seperated by county or city/town or district, and they signed a page for a place that is not the one where they are located.

    4) Duplicate signatures, as in they already signed the petition.

    5) They do not fill in all of the legally required information on the petition.

    6) Their handwriting is illegible. Their actual signature can be illegible, but their printed name and address has to be legible so the election clerks can validate their signatures. If the election clerks can’t read their printed name and/or address then they can’t verify that the signature is valid so they will disqualify it.

    There are several things that petitioners can do to improve their validity, such as:

    1) Asking everyone if they are registered to vote.

    2) Where they are registered to vote (as in which county, city/town, or district in which they are registered to vote in the places where the signatures must be seperated on different pages in this manner).

    3) Asking if they’ve moved since the last time they voted.

    4) Asking when was the last time they voted. If a person stops voting for a certain time period some states will drop them from the voter roles.

    5) Visually checking each signature to make sure that all of the legally required information is filled in and that it is legible.

    6) Some states allow you to have people fill out voter registration forms and sign a petiton the same day. If you are in a state that allows this then you can improve your validity rate by bringing voter registration cards with you and getting people who are not registered to vote or who need to update their voter registration and then having them sign your petition.

    I’m not automatically impressed when a petitioner says that they got a high number of signatures because it doesn’t mean much if their validity rate is not good. What is really impressive is brining in a high number of signatures AND having good validity.

    I have a reputation for getting high validity. My validity is usually in the 80s-90s percent range, and my validity rarely drops below the 70-75 percent threshold which is the industry standard for what is considered to be good validity.

  24. RobDePublic

    Petition signatures and Illinois huh? Jerry Kohn ran for US Senate in 2004 against Barack Obama and Kohn got 5,300 signatures in 90 days to put himself and Badnarik on the ballot in Illinois. Free. Didn’t have to pay for them.

    That is a different category altogether, but a category I hold more respect for. Unfortunately, the LP Illinois never recognizes hard-work like that and they bad-mouthed and ran Jerry out because he didn’t stroke their frail egos the right way, and the party has been all but dead in IL since then. They shouldn’t even need to get signatures this time around if they had listened to the hard-working Jerry Kohn instead of the usual destructive personalities that own LP Illinois and would rather have control than success.

  25. Andy Jacobs is an excellent petitioner. I hired him to work for Ron Paul in IL and recommended him to work for Ron Paul in IN, both delegate drives took place in the middle of winter, in a stretch of frequently subzero weather. Al Anders is exactly correct about him. I’d believe every word Jacobs says here, since he’s probably the most honest person I know, and knows a great deal about petitioning.

    Dondero, on the other hand, cannot tell fact from fancy, so claims of 510 signatures from him are insignificant, even if it were some kind of record, which it’s not even close to being. Perhaps he collected them in a “biblical day” such as one of the “7 days” so challenged in the “Scopes monkey trial”. Such a claim would square with Dondero’s other claims.

    In a way, I’m glad that boasts from petitioners are now worthy of posts on ballot access news, since they normally aren’t. It’s also a good place to point out that my recommendation of Dondero’s petitioning in 2005 was retracted in 2007, yet remains on his website, since he is woefully dishonest. (Even back then, I couldn’t make any positive comments about Dondero’s continually-shifting pragmatist neocon ideology, so I made a positive comment about his work ethic.)

    For the IL LP in 2004, I did 632 signatures in 8 hours, my best day ever petitioning, so I’m pleased to see that the private sector outperforms the Republican Party’s agents provacateurs, once again.

  26. BTW: Jeff, you might want to know that, against my advice, Eric Dondero told Shane Cory not to bring any additional professional petitioners into WV, in 2008. Cory, knowing nothing about petition drives, listened to Dondero. We both know how that turned out. …LOL

    With pro-war neocons like Dondero representing the LP in the streets, the LP moves further from truth and liberty, and the Constitution Party becomes their relevant and timely replacement. That anyone listens to Dondero after the way he treated his former boss, Ron Paul, on “Meet the Press”, is laughable. Is this the same Dondero who was claiming in 2007 that Libertarians should vote for Giuliani instead of Ron Paul, in the Republican Primaries? Yes, it is.

    Dondero is intent on destroying the Libertarian Party, (he publicly admitted this after the LP nominated Badnarik as their presidential candidate in 2004) and Sean Haugh (who cost the National LP 4 states and DC of ballot access in 2008) is in IL to help him out. …Together, they just might succeed at that.

  27. “Veteran member of the Libertarian Party”, or “Military Veteran in the Libertarian Party”? LOL! Dondero is loyal to over-funding the US military, but not in any way loyal to the LP, or libertarianism. He has stated this on many occasions, that he is a pro-war “single issue voter”. He advocated that libertarians support Rudy Giuliani in the winter of 2007. Please, change the title of this article! It’s laughable!

  28. The title of this article is actually a triple entendre, with the intended meaning being the only one that’s not true. Dondero used to be a Libertarian, but he’s not anymore, so I guess he could be considered a “Veteran of the LP”, to clarify this meaning, a comma should be inserted after the word “Libertarian” in the title. Dondero also is a military veteran, so that could also be what the title means, but it would be clearer if a comma was inserted after the word “Veteran”.

    Right now, the only thing we know about Dondero is that he is a petitioner, (and not even a very good one, at that). 500 signatures in one day is good, but 200 is average, for a full day spent at any college campus. Stop the presses for anything over 700 (what petitioners normally do in 1 week).

    Of course, if one considers what message the LP’s petitioners are disseminating to the general public, Dondero is totally toxic to the expansion of libertarian values, since he is a pro-war Republican neocon. The “R” is capitalized in the prior sentence, because Dondero is now officially a member of the Republican Party, and not even a small “L” libertarian like his former boss, Ron Paul.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rgTqSu-ZVFM

  29. George Whitfield

    Thank you to all of the dedicated and hard-working petitioners for the Libertarian Party. I did a little petioning way back in 1980 in Virginia for Ed Clark and it is not easy to do. I have lived overseas since 1986 so havn’t had the opportunity to petition since. Perhaps in the future I will help out on petioning again. Hi, Al Anders, I remember meeting you when you ran for City Council in Norfolk, Virginia in the early 80’s. Thank you for all the work you have done for the LP since then. Hope to meet you again sometime.

  30. ETJB

    I did (unsuccessful) petitioning for a Minnesota Libertarian Congressional candidate a few years back. Later on I made similar efforts with the ND and MN Greens.

    I did not ending up voting for these candidates, but (1) I wanted to see how the petitioning process works to make my judgments. (2) believe that their were real constitutional liberties at stake, although the courts seem to disagree.

    In Minnesota, the big problem was the narrow, 2 week window in the Summer. The local colleges are out, so very few students are around. Lots of people come to the rural-lakes region during the summer and are not interested in a petition or do not live in the district. I really do not see why this should be such a narrow time window and have been tried to get it expanded, with little interest.

    Similar problems arose in North Dakota. Although the allowed time window was — if my memory serves me — longer, it still was the summer season and then their are those messy primary rules.

  31. ETJB

    Basically, I came away from these experiences with a sense that the ballot access rules are [often] not based on rational interests in avoiding voter confusion or the sanity of the people making a readable ballot. Although I rarely [if ever] vote for Independent or minor party candidates.

  32. fyi

    Just for the record, and not to brag, my own personal record for the LP was over 1100 in day.

    Issues are easier to collect for. I collected in Illinois for term limits and got over 3000 sigs in 6 days.

  33. Gary L. Fincher

    Dondero, mitigating factor re North Dakota. While circulating in ND, people passing by will do a sort of “self screen” and tell you that they can’t sign the petition because they aren’t a registered voter (even though this isn’t the case) and the time it takes the circulator to clear this up with the voter (sometimes the voter will walk away too) and get them to sign deems it almost as hard as a regular state to work; not quite, but almost. Another mitigating factor is that the good places to work in North Dakota see half the people the circulator asks being Minnesotans, a factor I doubt you had in Illinois. And finally, North Dakota has far less the population of Illinois. So over 500 is not so different a feat as you might think at first glance.

    Anders, thanks for rating me high as a petitioner. You’re a top-notch circulator as well, and I learned a lot from you in my early days. You also showed me how to first work VR drives.

    Andy being listed ahead of me has merit, especially since he can thrive collecting signatures in weather that leaves me paralyzed, keep in mind that we just worked Missouri for 3 days together, and I beat him 597 to 495 (identical petitioning time). On the final day, I beat him 301 to 207. (Not to say that he couldn’t have beaten me on another drive in different circumstances, mind you, but I beat him on that particular drive.)

    Kohlhaas shouldn’t be on the list because he’s a criminal who likes to swindle circulators.

  34. Gary L. Fincher

    And also Dondero, I did collect 587 one day for term limits in the same state you’re in, while also getting kicked out of about 7 places, and screening all for being registered voters.

  35. Andy

    “Andy being listed ahead of me has merit, especially since he can thrive collecting signatures in weather that leaves me paralyzed, keep in mind that we just worked Missouri for 3 days together, and I beat him 597 to 495 (identical petitioning time). On the final day, I beat him 301 to 207. (Not to say that he couldn’t have beaten me on another drive in different circumstances, mind you, but I beat him on that particular drive.)”

    Note that Gary had worked in Missouri before and that it was I that had suggested a location to him for signature gathering that he would not have normally tried on his own without anyone having suggested it to him (I heard about this type of location from another petitioner who had worked Missouri before). This location turned out to be good and they did not kick him out so I drove him there each day and he mostly petitioned there by himself while I drove around and looked for other spots (although he did walk to a couple of locations that were close by and he did petition a little bit with me). Missouri does not have good access to locations for petition signature gathering so I unfortunately spent too much time looking for spots and getting kicked out of spots. If I had access to a location for myself that was as busy as the one that Gary had we likely would have had an equal number of signatures (or about equal, give or take a few for either of us).

  36. Andy

    “On the final day, I beat him 301 to 207.”

    Also, note that I bounced around to multiple locations that day and got hassled by a security gaurd and a cop at a festival that somebody from the campaign suggested that I work and which turned out to be a smaller festival than had been described to me. It took a super-petitioner effort for me to salvage that day to boost my signature total for that day up to 207 signatures.

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