Signature Collection Question

Well with the tight deadlines and the predicted weather, I may have to use different strategies for getting signatures. I personally am a big believer in getting signatures door-to-door. You can find out where the voter stands. When you are at a supermarket and a voter says, “I wouldn’t vote for that candidate under any circumstances,” it doesn’t work really well to try to chase the person and ask for a name! It makes it hard to “ID” the voter.

Voters are very impressed when people go out in bad weather. But there is a fine line between people thinking that you are dedicated and people thinking that you are nuts. I think that I have crossed that line on more than one occasion!

Bottom line is that I am thinking of collecting signatures at a mall. I haven’t done this in the past. I found this post on solicitation of signatures in public places. Does anyone have experience on collecting signatures at a mall? The guidelines say that shopping centers may not “prevent petitioners from actively soliciting signatures in a reasonable area. For example petitioners may not be restricted to standing behind a table or booth.”

In general I tend to feel that if you are arguing law on something like this you are better off going some place else, if you have that option. I’ve heard indications that the place we are looking to collect signatures wants up to be at a table. Has anyone successfully argued this? Is the information I linked the most up to date?

I’m looking for folks thoughts on this. It sounds tempting to be inside a mall, instead of in the snow. Do you get registered voters? Is there too much paper shuffling because people are from a number of towns? Although I prefer town meetings and elections, that is not going to be an option.

Thoughts? Advice?

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7 Comments . Leave a comment below.
  1. not directly related, but...

    We’ve collected signatures at a local grocery store, on their property (outside) with no issues. The drill has been to contact the store manager beforehand to let them know. Never had any complaints. So the only advice I can give is to talk to the mall management so they know who you are and what you’ll be doing (and hopefully they’ll give a heads-up to their security folks).

  2. I would second that.

    It’s been my experience that asking for permission from management to collect signatures at the entrance (the “ask” is important in my experience, even when it’s legally allowable to be there) gets an okay.

    Interestingly enough, it’s also been my experience that MBTA subway stations are no-gos, unless there’s written authorization from the Agency, and the T folks that gave me authorization made me specify dates, times-of-day and specific persons collecting at permitted times. Even then, collecting signatures was only permitted outside the stations at entrances and exits.

    • I was aware of the case law involved...

      …but it made practical sense to jump through the hoops to avoid confrontations.

      • Agreed

        Like it or not, life is often simpler when you aovid confrontation and jump through hoops.

        I’m still wondering if anyone has had success in a statewide race at indoor collection area.

        Kate

  3. The mall management is going to say no.

    The mall always owns the mall.

    The grocery store probably rents the space, so the sidewalk outside is owned by a management company somewhere. Not sure if they own their stores or what, but in the Merrimack Valley Hannaford’s will send someone to shoo you away.

    Also in the Merrimack Valley, Market Basket has no issues with signature collection. Never had a problem there.

    In general the store manager’s probably not going to be there on weekends and whoever you ask on a weekend (and this is from experience) has no idea.

    Beside grocery stores it’s very difficult to gather large quantities of signatures in a reasonable amount of time, unless of course you’re at a large event where politicking is tolerated.

    • Mall Said Yes

      But wants us behind a table. I’m looking for someone who has actually tried at a mall for a statewide race. It’s less of an issue that people aren’t local because anywhere in MA is OK.

      • do bring lots of blank sheets

        If you do go ahead, expect to get people from all sorts of towns. Even in Lexington Center one time I needed about ten sheets to cover all of the cities/towns. The nice people I met from London unfortunately couldn’t sign any of them. :)

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Tue 21 Oct 6:20 AM