Introducing Petitions

Introducing Petitions

Now you can create your own text campaigns, for free, from your pocket

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Two people holding up signs to text resist to 50409 to defend DACA

Credit: Angelique Espinoza

In watching activists and casual users use Resistbot and share it on social media over almost three years, two things became clear:

First, organizers like Jenny Cohn have to give users an often overwhelming amount of detail and instruction to push her message—in her case the importance of hand-marked paper ballots—forward. I’ve seen other organizers provide scripts, varying types of instructions as to what level of government to send, lists of phone numbers, how to change the script, how to be effective, etc. Before long, the average person may elect to do nothing instead of doing something because it is too complicated or takes too much time. Even the insistence that only calls matter means a large dropoff of people that could have been tallied, and turned out to vote later. People should be able to engage and be counted in a meaningful way, in a manner that’s intuitive and straightforward.

Enter our new version of open letters, which you can now use with the petitionCreate a new petition or return a list of your current ones. keyword. Now activists and organizers can spend time to drive hundreds or thousands of contacts to Congress with none of the extra instructions that were required before, and people new to the ‘bot or activism can engage more easily with fewer steps to worry about.

Starting your own petition is easy! If you already wrote your letter, just text petitionCreate a new petition or return a list of your current ones. to the bot, and follow the directions. If you didn't write your letter yet:

  1. Write your letter, same as always, to whatever government body you like.

    presidentContact the President for the President,
    stateContact your Governor and/or state legislators
    congressContact your U.S. Senators & U.S. House representative for all officials in the U.S. House and Senate,
    governor for all U.S. governors or,
    houseContact your representative in the U.S. House of Representatives or senateContact your senators in the U.S. Senate for all Representatives or Senators respectively; or
    mayorWrite or call your Mayor for city mayors

    Make sure your letter would work for any official who would receive it, so don’t mention specific official names, and as always, leave off your personal info, the bot always handles that automatically. Stick to the issue and position. Additionally, do not start a letter with "I am a" or similar, unless everyone signing would fit that description.
  2. When prompted to make your letter open, say "yes"; when prompted to make it signable, also say "yes". If you don't see a prompt, text petitionCreate a new petition or return a list of your current ones. after your letter is sent successfully.
  3. If you didn't already provide a subject, please provide a pithy one when asked, and you'll also be prompted to enter an optional organization name.
  4. Share the petition image and code that’s returned to you when you finish. That’s it! You can make a huge impact with your thumbs and some time.

Here’s what a finished product looks like:

Your friends, family, and followers can deliver that to their own officials with one tap on Twitter, or by texting sign [your code here] to 50409.

NEW: All Resistbot petitions now have their own pages, like this one, too!

With a few signatures, it looks more like this:

You can also set a custom keyword, and your very own profile page, for all your active petitions with the claimClaim your own custom username you can use for your petitions and vote drives. keyword. You can learn more about claiming a keyword and building your following here.

Every person who "signs" your petition is pulling in a copy and sending it to their own officials. Think of this when you’re sharing. Say you’re writing the Senate from Virginia as Chris did above. You’ve already gotten Senators Kaine and Warner. To get your letter to new officials, you’ll need to invite people in a different state. If you want to run up the tally with specific officials, focus your efforts on their districts or states. The feature may be called "petition" but it's not a petition in the traditional sense where it's just a piece of paper with a bunch of signatures on it, we're actually delivering a copy for each targeted official on behalf of the signer, instantly. So a petition to the Congress and President would be delivered four times for each signer, one for each of her officials.

It’s true that, generally speaking, staffers prefer to see constituents using their own words and see that they’re educated on the issues they’re writing about, but education can take time, especially on complicated issues. Lobbyists are paid by corporations to build more expertise on issues than most lawmakers. Citizens are afforded no such compensation, despite issues in Congress such as the protection of pre-existing conditions in health insurance that can actually be life or death. By insisting that constituents communicate with Congress using methods that take more time for the sake of taking more time, lest they be dismissed as "slacktivists", they reinforce a politics that speaks with an upper-class accent. We say: let’s meet people where they are, get their positions tallied by Congress, and help them take the first step in what’s hopefully a lifetime of civic engagement. Everyone has to start somewhere, and remember, everyone gets pulled into my proven get out the vote program. Additionally, at the Congressional level, constituent management software uses a unique identifier to specially tally our letters, making them the fastest way for staffers to know how many people are in support of your idea.

Please give it a try and use the feedbackSend feedback to the Resistbot volunteers! keyword for any suggestions! We’ve already got a lot on the roadmap to make this better, but we need to hear from you so we make this work for you and your group! If you need individualized help getting started, please email and my volunteers will respond quickly.

Looking for other ways to help out? This feature was built by volunteer engineers, and we need more to stay online. We use technology like Python, Postgres, Gatsby, AWS, and more; so if you’re an engineer there’s probably something for you or something to learn! Drop us a DM or email to enlist. If you can’t code or don’t have time, consider becoming a sustaining donor. With a few more, Resistbot will be here forever to help you with your activism.

NEW: You can now see a live list of trending petitions on our website, or follow @resistbottrends on Twitter to stay up-to-date.

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Grassroots donors are all that keep the ’bot online for the organizers that need us. Please give if you can.

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