“A socialist candidate? Hell yeah! Count me in.” Petitioners for Gloria La Riva in Washington state were excited to meet numerous people who expressed this very sentiment as they collected some 1,700 signatures to qualify the candidate for the ballot. Signatures were submitted on August 6 and the campaign received confirmation of qualification one week later on August 13.
Washington state has a relatively easy signature requirement for qualifying a “minor party” presidential candidate for the ballot: 1,000 valid signatures of registered voters. The presidential candidates of the Party for Socialism and Liberation have appeared on this state’s ballot every 4 years since 2008.
2020 was a bit different though. All large public gatherings such as the FolkLife Festival and the Seattle LGBTQ Pride Fest had been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In a geographically spread out state with only 7 million residents, petitioners in past years depended on these large gatherings in order to find a steady stream of people to ask.
Of course, after the start of the nationwide rebellion against racist police terror, large crowds did start gathering in the streets, but these gatherings, beset with violent police attacks including tear gas, flashbangs and pepper spray, did not always provide an environment conducive to signature gathering.
As the deadline approached, members of the PSL steeled their resolve and went out into the streets all over the state, from Spokane to Seattle to Sequim, Bellingham to Vancouver. Petitioners stood outside of supermarkets, worked the line of people waiting to get into farmers’ markets, petitioned picnickers at parks, reached out to political allies and petitioned at the start and end of rallies and marches. Of course, petitioners wore masks, carried hand sanitizer and maintained social distance with the people signing.
A highlight of the petitioning period was the visit of candidate Gloria La Riva to Seattle and Vancouver, Wa. La Riva went out petitioning with members on a daily basis, assisting in the training of new members who had never engaged in this kind of work before.
Compared to petitioning a massive multi-day festival, this was slower going but PSL comrades reached their goal of 1,000 signatures plus a buffer of 700 with two weeks of daily petitioning! With one day left to the deadline, La Riva and Seattle PSL member Jane Cutter submitted the signature and other required paperwork to the Secretary of State’s Elections Division in Olympia, Washington on Aug. 6.
PSL members are now strategizing for a statewide campaign.