NH Rebellion, along with its partner groups Public Citizen, People for the American Way, and others, are launching an effort to get an adaption of We the People Pledge to Fight Big Money into 100 town warrants around the state.
Town meetings are held each year, most in March, but some as late as June, in 161 towns in New Hampshire, well over half of New Hampshire's 224 communities. A town warrant is the slate of issues which come before town meeting, including the approval of the budget, the purchase of capital equipment like fire trucks and police cruisers, and special requests from town departments or other groups.
New Hampshire's Constitution also allows for voters to petition to add an article to the warrant, and these "petitioned warrant articles" often appear at the end of the slate of issues, and sometimes include resolutions on state and national issues. Here's a great primer on the NH Municipal Association's website about warrant articles at town meeting.
Gather and Verify the Information You'll Need
1) We have created a form for your use that you may download here in either Word or PDF. This form has the recommended language for your use.
2) Before you solicit signatures, take this form to your town clerk to obtain an opinion on whether the language meets the town's requirements for a petitioned warrant article. Work with the clerk to get the language to meet these standards.
3) Confirm the number of signatures needed for your town, and the deadline for submitting petitions for verification to the town clerk.
4) Once the language is agreed upon, IT MAY NOT BE CHANGED ONCE SIGNATURES ARE COLLECTED. Doing so will invalidate the signatures.
Get the Signatures
In most of our communities, grocery stores, hardware, transfer stations, outside community meetings, in front of town hall are all great places to collect signatures.
1) Ask permission if it's private property. Public buildings often have a free speech area you may be restricted to.
2) Signers must be a registered voter, so we recommend you ask before presenting the petition.
3) Bring clipboards, tables and signage -- and a smile!
4) In most NH towns, you need a minimum of 25 signatures of registered voters, however, we recommend collecting 50 or more to be sure you have enough. Town clerks or voting officials will verify that all the signatures are of registered voters and take off those who are not, so more is better!
5) Submit your signatures before in early January to the Town Clerk for verification. That allows recovery should anything go wrong prior to the deadline.
Before Town Meeting
Congratulations! You've successfully placed your article on the warrant. A couple more easy steps, and you'll improve your chances of winning the vote.
1) Write a letter to the editor of your local papers, and ask your friends to do the same. We'll be creating some content for you to use.
2) Use Facebook or other social media to let the community know what the article number is, and what it is about. We've created some pictures and content for you to use as well.
3) Create flyers for bulletin boards or a big sign for the center of town.
4) Send a press release (see the sample) to your local papers.
At Town Meeting
1) Have flyers copied to hand out at town meeting. Hand them out to folks coming in for the meeting. With 80% of Republicans and 82% of Democrats favoring the overturning of Citizens United, and strong support for our other reforms, you'll find lots of support.
2) Speak to your article at town meeting if you can. Here's an example of what to say. You need to be a registered voter in that town to speak. If you are not a registered voter, or not from that town, you must ask for permission from the moderator, who will in turn ask for any objections from the voters. Something like: "I have passed out a flyer describing about how Big Money politics is corrupting our politicians in Washington. If you are as tired of special interests controlling our government as I am, I urge you to send a message to our elected officials in NH and Washington and vote YES on Article 12. Thank you!"
We're Here to Help if You Need It!
We want to see you succeed, so NH Rebellion staff is here to assist you if you need materials or advice. Send Olivia Zink an email at [email protected], or call her at 603-715-8197.