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Would You Like to Sign to Get an Independent Candidate on the Ballot?

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I’ll call it building character. It’s a long and arduous process, but it’s well worth it.

I ended my semester on Friday, moved out of my dormitory apartment on Sunday, went home to Indiana and turned around to come back to Chicago in less than 24 hours, and Monday night I was now a member of the Road Tripper for Ralph team on the ground in Illinois working to get the 50,000 signatures necessary to get him on the ballot.  

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I became an independent contractor. Contractually, I agreed that I would get an average of 70 signatures per day or more. The quota is good, reasonable, and necessary for Nader/Gonzalez to get on the ballot.

All 50,000 signatures must be collected by June 26th. The Board of Elections denied access to the voter file to check our validity rate for signatures from the Chicago city and its suburbs. Illinois is set to deny Nader/Gonzalez its constitutional right to be on the ballot---Road Trippers for Ralph are here to make it harder for them to deny him his right (The Road Trippers each are between 20-29 years old.)

The contract I entered into, which requires me to collect 70 signatures per day, does not have to be frustrating if not met. I get paid a dollar per signature. Pushing myself to get that next signature only helps me pay for living expenses this summer. However, that’s not how I have been taking it.

Tuesday was miserable and rotten.

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The team of Road Trippers in Illinois (who come from New York, Pennsylvania, Florida, Texas, etc.) loaded the van to go petition at 8:30 am in the morning. We bought or renewed passes to the Chicago Transit lines where we would be petitioning. By 11 am, we were out asking people to put Nader/Gonzalez on the ballot.

Except for me.

I was watching people who had experience do the job I was supposed to be doing. All the while I was making excuses for why this task was impossible for me to do. If it could be a reason for not getting a signature, I used it.

I managed 10 signatures while others got between an average of 140-160 signatures.

I talked with the members of the team. They let it go because it was my first day. I came back home.

Tired and beaten---demoralized---We got back to the hotel that we are staying in at 9 pm. I had no food. I scrambled around trying to figure out how to get something to eat because I had not eaten since 2 pm.

By midnight, I managed to get some pizza and then I crashed hoping to get up the next morning and go redeem myself.

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Redemption was not to be. I got out of the van, went to my designated petitioning location, and then wandered off attempting to find a “better” place to petition people from.

I never pursued that spot. I couldn’t mentally get into it. Instead, I walked to a train stop, rode the train around downtown, and then I grabbed an early lunch.

I ran into one of my fellow Road Trippers and told him I had no signatures. I wasn’t getting this and was ready to give up.

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Kevin Gosztola is managing editor of Shadowproof Press. He also produces and co-hosts the weekly podcast, "Unauthorized Disclosure." He was an editor for

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