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My coworker knows that I live in "his district" and he's been coming up to my desk for the past few days asking me to sign his petition to run for local office. Personally we don't share the same political views and I'll most likely vote for his opposing party. I don't want to bring political views into work though, especially since he's yelled at people and gossips with everyone.

So far I've been getting away with saying I can't currently sign it - I'll get up and pretend to have a meeting or a phone call. I'd like his harassment to stop, so how should I go about saying that I won't ever sign it?

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    Hey Dark Cygnus. It seems like you changed my post, why'd you do that? He's running for a local city council office, not a corporate position. – Pelican Feb 18 at 20:28
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    Hey Pelican, I merely changed your tags as the politics tags was misused (as it's not for corporate or office politics), and introduced more useful tags with the goal of you getting more/better answers. I also made improvements to your title to make it more appealing. I left the whole body of your post intact. Feel free to edit your post further... seems you are new to SE (welcome btw :)... in this site, the Community (that is, all users) helps improve posts by suggesting edits to it, so expect to receive edits or suggestions whenever you ask or answer. – DarkCygnus Feb 18 at 20:46
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    (cont.) for more reference, I encourage you to take our tour so you get up to speed to how this site works and start to know your ways here. I also suggest you take a read at what to ask and what to not ask as a guide to writing good, on-topic questions, so your posts are received positively. Welcome to The Workplace – DarkCygnus Feb 18 at 20:51
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    Does your employee handbook have anything in it that would address this sort of behavior? – alroc Feb 18 at 21:43
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    Where do you live? Do you happen to work for the government? Where I live it is illegal to do any sort of campaigning at work if you work for the government. – David K Feb 19 at 13:08

20 Answers 20

212

Just say:

No, thanks. But good luck!

That's it! You do not owe an explanation, nor is an explanation going to help. You just open yourself up to counter-arguments.

No, thanks.

  • 30
    I think this might be more appropriate than the "I don't mix work and politics" which will come back and hunt you when you sign something that you do agree with. And wishing somebody well regardless of his political standpoint is always OK. – Maarten Bodewes Feb 19 at 2:17
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    @jmpc26 Only after saying the word "No" first. It is important that it is the first word that prefaces everything else, as it is the clearest possible statement of intent. This is a situation where clarity should be favored over politeness, because politeness has already failed. – Joe Feb 19 at 2:37
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    @LightnessRacesinOrbit You can always clarify later. But if you offend someone it is a lot harder to clean up the mess. – LN6595 Feb 19 at 3:22
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    @LN6595 That's why it can be so complicated, but trying not to offend people should never be an excuse to be unclear (even if you can "always clarify later") because, if so, you've straight up failed at communicating and may as well have said nothing at all. – Lightness Races with Monica Feb 19 at 12:57
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    This is the correct answer. The coworker is a political candidate, who will have heard the word "No" before, and will again. Unless they are a complete neophyte with zero training, once they get a firm no, they will move on. It's actually way more polite than dancing around the point, wasting time. – Tim Grant Feb 21 at 21:29
183

Be firm and polite, but above all else don't explain yourself!

In this situation explanations invite argument and risk hurt feelings. Avoiding them is best. Instead simply state your policy in an emotionally neutral way (and of course make sure you consistently apply this policy):

Thanks, but my policy is to avoid mixing work and politics.

If you feel additional explanation is needed since you initially implied you might sign it, you could say this the first time, and use the line above every subsequent time:

Thanks, but after some thought, my policy is to avoid mixing work and politics.

If pressed repeat this with a smile every single time. If the coworker doesn't get the hint, escalate the problem (privately) to your manager.

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    Stating it's "their policy" is explaining. In this case, it's also lying about the reason. They don't want to discuss the matter or explain explicitly that it's due to opposing views. I see nothing in the question that implies they would hesitate to sign it if they agreed with the person. – jpmc26 Feb 19 at 1:09
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    Don't even say that you want to avoid mixing work and politics. Just say "No." – EvilSnack Feb 19 at 2:03
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    @jpmc26 OP said "I don't want to bring political views into work though". To me that indicates he wouldn't sign opposing petitions either, since OP doesn't want to be involved with any politics at work. – Gertsen Feb 19 at 7:52
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    This is excellent. The one thing that I'd add is that if the coworker claims that you implied that you'd sign, lead with "I'm sorry I gave that impression, but..." – Arcanist Lupus Feb 19 at 12:55
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    "Don't explain yourself"... This is a lesson i need to learn. – moonheart08 Feb 19 at 15:36
67

You have already tried politeness. Politeness has failed. Now is the time for clarity. You must give the clearest answer you can. The best way to do that is to use a magic word:

No.

There are three rules for using this magic word in this context:

  1. You must say "No."
  2. "No" must be the first word of the sentence.
  3. "No" said by itself, is a complete sentence.

So, the best answer to the repeated question is:

No.

If this is too impolite for you, you may offer whatever polite filler phrases you wish, after you have said "No", like this:

No, thank you.

No, I don't want to do that.

No, I don't mix business and politics.

No, but good luck.

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    I love it when people are direct! +1 for you, good sir. Do not leave room for mis-interpretation and do not leave 'whatever' open for "reading between the lines". "No" is a valid answer and more and more people are in need of getting face to face with it. :-) – rkeet Feb 19 at 8:50
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    Welcome to SE! This is a terrific answer, broadly applicable, and I will use it as a basis for teaching my children to be assertive. Thank you! – dotancohen Feb 19 at 11:22
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    Thanks Joe - this is exactly what I would've answered. "No." with a smile. – Mikey Feb 19 at 14:45
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    I would argue against simply saying "no"--in most contexts (in the US at least), that would be seen as very rude (I'm not saying that's the intent, but it would be received that way by most people). In my answer I say not to explain yourself, but technically some explanation is always expected, but don't go beyond this. Your #3 hits the mark. Without that, the hearer will either wait for the explanation, or will ask for it. The first question in their mind will be "Why?". But don't offer explanation as to why you don't mix politics and business, just state it firmly and politely. – bob Feb 19 at 15:55
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    I'd go so far as to say that what the questioner has done, saying "I can't sign it right now, I'm just headed to a meeting" is in fact not polite. It's conflict-avoidant, but that is not precisely the same thing. So, "you have already tried impolitely leaving it unclear what your answer is to a simple question. Impoliteness has failed. Now is the time for clarity". Same result, though – Steve Jessop Feb 21 at 23:10
43

What you did is a mistake. Psychologically, if you give people hope they will try harder. It would have been much more polite to say the first time you were approached "there is no way I will sign for this, because I'm totally opposed to your politics". That way, he could have gone away without wasting his time on you.

By saying "not now" you invite him to come back to you and try again, which just causes agony for both of you.

So how should I go about saying that I won't ever sign it?

You say "I won't ever sign it".

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    I agree with this answer in general. It's best to be clear since the first time this happened. However, I believe there are better ways to phrase it in a polite way, compared to a blunt (and perhaps a bit rude) "I won't ever sign it". Can you suggest alternative phrasings OP can use to decline this while being professional and polite? – DarkCygnus Feb 18 at 20:24
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    I agree on the approach, but if you say "I'm totally opposed to your politics" you invite more conversation. Consider changing that to "I keep work and politics separate" (which the OP said in the question), which shuts down attempts to persuade him of specific political views. – Monica Cellio Feb 18 at 20:29
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    @MonicaCellio That is not quite what they said. The question reads, "I don't want to bring political views into work though, especially since he's yelled at people and gossips with everyone," which reads to me more like, "I don't want to reveal my political views to this person or have a debate with them." We don't really know how they would respond if the person asking shared their views and no debate was likely to ensue. – jpmc26 Feb 19 at 1:14
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    @MonicaCellio saying that you keep work and politics separate may make him ask you to discuss it outside of work. It at the very least would lead him to believe there is a possibility of convincing you (that's what I would think if someone said that to me, even after reading your comment). I think that's way to unclear to get the job done, but I agree with the point you're making. – user87779 Feb 19 at 7:54
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    @user87779 It's at that point you should say "We are coworkers, and that would go against my policy of keeping work and politics separate." Just because you're outside work, it doesn't fully remove that connection. You would still work together. – JMac Feb 19 at 13:17
18

Something like this might work:

I've been giving it some thought and I came to the conclusion that I don't want to mix work and politics. The truth is that in many areas I have very different political opinions to you and probably a fair few others in the office and I wouldn't want that to become a source of animosity between us, and for that reason, it would probably be better if I didn't sign this.

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    This makes my answer irrelevant! But I'd suggest cutting everything after the first sentence. The point of not bringing politics into the office is to avoid disagreements and unpleasantness; announcing political opposition to the coworker kind of forces that dynamic forward. Declining to mix work and politics should be enough to address the coworker and forestall any additional discussion. – Upper_Case Feb 18 at 21:12
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    You don't need to bring in "mixing work and politics." Keep it simple, and just say you don't wish to be formally involved in politics, which you will be if you sign. In the UK, for example, the fact that you have signed (and your address, not just your name!) will be in the public domain as part of the electoral process. That will have consequences, whether you want it to or not. – alephzero Feb 18 at 22:06
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    @Upper_Case On the contrary, leaving it at "I don't want to mix work and politics" leaves the door open for the coworker to say "Oh ok, let's get lunch at Burger King together tomorrow and we can do it away from the office." or even more likely "Oh ok, you're right. I'll just stop by at your house on my own personal time like all the other politicians do when they go door-to-door." – Aaron Feb 18 at 22:16
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    @Upper_Case You are saying what you think should be done based on logic. And your logic is good! Unfortunately, in this situation you need to throw your logic out the window. Unless you have reason to do otherwise, you should act on the assumption that anything that could go wrong will go wrong, especially when it comes to difficult interpersonal communication. So stop using your brain (said half tongue-in-cheek / half serious). – Aaron Feb 18 at 22:58
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    Too much explaining, and it's missing the most important word, which is "No." – Joe Feb 19 at 2:35
13

You say

Personally we don't share the same political views and I'll most likely vote for his opposing party.

But these are not mutually exclusive things. You could sign his petition and vote for the opposing party anyway right?

  • Signing his petition is helping this guy get elected. I'd guess that the OP really meant he doesn't want to help this guy get elected, (as opposed to only caring about voting in the election) so signing the petition would be directly opposed to his goals. – Patrick M Feb 20 at 12:50
  • In some places you have to be the same party as the person who's petition your signing or it doesn't count. For instance, a Republican running may need to get 1000 registered republican signatures from their town to be listed on the ballot. If you are not of the same party, your signature may not count anyway. If this is the case, you could say, I don't believe my signature would count, but good luck anyway – alpha1 Feb 20 at 15:27
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    @PatrickM No, it isn't. Only two things will help this guy get elected: a) Voting for him in the actual election, or b) Opposing him but throwing your vote away in the actual election. I suppose you could argue that actively campaigning for him could help, but this isn't anything like that. Signing a petition is merely a vote for open elections. – Harper - Reinstate Monica Feb 21 at 15:30
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    @Patrick - If we were talking about a citizen initiative, I might agree with you. But signing a ballot access petition doesn't say, "I want this individual to gain office"; it says "I am OK with other citizens having the opportunity to vote for this individual for this office." I don't want Hillary Clinton to be President, but I see no reason for others to not have the opportunity to vote for her, so I'd sign her ballot petition. I'd sign this petition unless I was aware of some disqualifying fact (like the individual not really being a resident of the district, for example). – tbrookside Feb 21 at 20:11
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    @PatrickM: furthermore, holding the door open for him might make some minuscule contribution towards him getting elected. So, we don't hold doors for our political opponents? More significant, I think, is that if the names on the petition are a matter of public record (which I assume they are), you might find yourself needing to explain yourself to other political opponents of this guy. Just like if they spotted you having a coffee with him, you'd have to explain that he's your colleague so you have made an exception to the usual rules of mutual hatred across parties, but it's tedious. – Steve Jessop Feb 21 at 23:01
13

I will have to contradict the other answers.

A petition does not indicate support of the candidate. It indicates your support that the candidate ought to be on the ballot. Those are two very different things. (I'm assuming that this is a ballot access petition.)

Taking this position removes all concerns from the equation. You are not supporting this individual's positions. You are supporting open expression and having a wider range of voices to be placed on the ballot - that being the case you are not involving yourself in politics except to the extent that you declare yourself in favor of a vibrant election process.

  • If he wins, then I'd feel like an idiot for having helped him to his goal. Yeah, no, I would have to go with the others who say don't sign! – Blisterpeanuts Feb 20 at 17:31
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    @Blisterpeanuts - I'm a free-market libertarian and have often signed petitions for the Green and Democratic Socialist parties. If your coworker had a real shot of winning he would have a staff that collect signatures. But, if that concerns you then you are correct and don't sign. – Mayo Feb 20 at 17:46
11

I do not know what your work place is, but many have specific policies against bringing outside concerns or issues to work. I suggest checking any employee hand book, the terms of employment, asking Personnel or your local management. If they can provide a firm and public answer, you can point directly to it. Depending, you may be able to point it out to coworker before he asks you again. Done right, he ought to see it as a tactful help ("I just noticed this and don't want someone else to blow you in to HR") and end the issue on a positive note. Possibly this will save others from him too.

  • I would upvote a second time if I could for the tactful tip. Welcome to The Workplace. – AGirlHasNoName Feb 19 at 2:20
  • Fortunately I have not worked in such a work place. A company is one of the main places where you meet different people and a perfect place to share views. I would call that kind of policy pure censorship. They don't own you or anything; they are paying you to do a job. As long as it doesn't interfere with that - or the personal freedom of the other employees - the company should not interfere. – Maarten Bodewes Feb 19 at 2:23
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    @MaartenBodewes at least in the US, an employer would be well within their rights to have a policy of "you can't campaign for political office using company resources or within the office". Especially if there's a subordinate/supervisor relationship involved in the campaigning. Employees may fear retribution for refusing to support another employee's candidacy, and an employee who got fired for not supporting a political campaign not related to the company's business would likely have a case for wrongful termination. – alroc Feb 19 at 15:06
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    And in this case it sounds like the candidate is already known to be a bully, so all the more reason to protect people from his interference – user90842 Feb 19 at 19:08
  • @MaartenBodewes: If the workplace is governmental or does alot of work for a government, it will almost certainly be required to prevent corruption. – K.A.Monica Feb 20 at 0:11
10

It depends on the district whether signing the candidate's petition is an endorsement of their candidacy (a nomination) or just their eligibility. I'm a member of my local school board, and my petition requires three nominators and ten “signatories.” The former say (paraphrasing) "I endorse this candidate and request that their name be on the ballot" and the latter say "I certify that the candidate is legally eligible to hold the office they're running for."

If you think the person is a decent human being, and deserves a shot to put their name before the voters, then I don't see any ideological dilemma between certifying their eligibility and then voting against them. A rational, independent voter would be able to say in one month, “Yes, he's capable of the job and deserves to be considered,” and then later, “But I prefer somebody else.” If he is asking you to nominate him, though, then you probably shouldn't.

If you're going to say no, just say no. “I'd rather not mix work and politics, if that's OK with you.” [Not that it matters whether it's OK with him.] The guy should be able to take a hint. After all, if he's going to run, he'd better have more friends in the community than you to ask to sign his petition.

  • 1
    Your "no" needs to be assertive. "I'd rather not" and "if that's OK with you" leaves room for the person asking to press more. A simple "No, I don't mix work relationships and politics" is all that's needed. – alroc Feb 19 at 15:08
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    @alroc: I agree, you need to be assertive. I think there's a way to do that without being blunt and making the conversation more awkward then necessary. After all, you need to keep working congenially with the person. Your face and tone of voice can show your true intent while your choice of words softens the blow. – Matthew Leingang Feb 19 at 16:06
  • "The former say (paraphrasing) "I endorse this candidate and request that their name be on the ballot"" So the nominations endorse the candidate and the endorsements certify eligibility? – Acccumulation Feb 19 at 17:20
  • @Acccumulation: you're right, I'm using endorse formally and informally in the same paragraph. I'll revise. – Matthew Leingang Feb 19 at 17:24
8

'I'm in a bit of a quandry here. On a personal level, I'm sure you'd be an excellent candidate. But I actually support the other lot! Would you let me off?'

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    Do not recommend if the person is aggressive about their political views. – jpmc26 Feb 19 at 1:12
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    this is the most adorably British thing I've read – Bryan Boettcher Feb 19 at 22:42
3

Go to your management and let them know. Your co-worker is using company time and resources to promote himself to a political office which is almost definitely against their policy, or at least is improper workplace behavior if not outright harassment. You may phrase it diplomatically:

My coworker has repeatedly asked me to sign a petition to promote his political campaign. I am uncomfortable with people pressing their politics on me in the office. I don't wish to turn this into a major incident, but perhaps my coworker's management could let him know that his actions are not universally appreciated and might be against company policy.

Probably nothing will be done right away, but your complaint will at least be noted, and if your coworker retaliates against you for refusing to sign his petition, you will have put in place a basis for him to be fired. "Remember when I came to you last month? Just as I feared, he became enraged when I did not sign his petition and has been saying nasty things about me in the lunch room."

It's unfortunate that some people are too self-centered and narcissistic to realize the impact of their actions on others. It's doubly unfortunate that you have to work with this person. Your first loyalty is to yourself and the security of your job and livelihood, so take appropriate preventative measures now and not become a victim of his bullying later on.

I have seen this kind of behavior many times in my career and rarely do people respond well to moral persuasion in the workplace. Usually, it is only the threat to their direct self-interest, e.g. their job, that convinces them to back off. However, usually employers don't have the patience to be forgiving, unless he's some kind of super-star employee whom they can't afford to fire, and those are very very rare!

  • 1
    Depending on the workplace (and the politics), I wouldn't be surprised if action get taken quicker than you think - it's not really in management's interest to have an employee running his campaign on company time. – Allen Gould Feb 19 at 16:41
  • If they can't afford to fire him, they wouldn't like him running for office eiher. If it's just a petition to be eligible to be a candidate and has nothing beyond that, I might just sign it since it does nothing. But I would also mention that if he needs to ask for the signatures in office then he probably has no chance of getting elected. It's a lot easier to get the required signatures to run for something than it is to actually get any votes in any democracy. That's just how it is, as you can sign for multiples but can only vote for one. – Lassi Kinnunen Feb 20 at 5:51
  • If they can't afford to fire him, they wouldn't like him running for office eiher. If it's just a petition to be eligible to be a candidate and has nothing beyond that, I might just sign it since it does nothing. But I would also mention that if he needs to ask for the signatures in office then he probably has no chance of getting elected. It's a lot easier to get the required signatures to run for something than it is to actually get any votes in any democracy. That's just how it is, as you can sign for multiples but can only vote for one. – Lassi Kinnunen Feb 20 at 5:51
  • Typically when running for a public office, it's best to get approval from HR so they know you're doing it. If he didn't, then he might have issues. As I was on a government contract that kept getting passed off between companies (getting bought out, recompete won by another company, that one getting bought out, then trying to sell themselves), I had to deal with it multiple times. There were always strict rules about keeping my two jobs separate, and only caused problems w/ the one trying to sell themselves (and trying to get me to sign a badly worded non-compete) – Joe Feb 21 at 3:20
  • @LassiKinnunen : you'd be surprised. Companies of a certain size like knowing that there are people in public office who might take their side on things. (which would be a conflict of interest, and the official should recuse themselves on ... but they still like it). Some also look it as a form of community service, depending on the type of elected position. – Joe Feb 21 at 3:22
3

Don't view it as humiliating or something to have to avoid. It's as simple as:

Thanks, coworker, but I'm not interested. I really wish you the best in your political affairs.

There is nothing to be ashamed of. There is nothing to gossip about. Political views don't need to be taboo. Just don't over-emphasize the fact that you don't agree with his political stance. It's always as simple as,

I'm not interested, but thank you for considering me.

2

There are two separate questions here.

TLDR: signing means you believe in the electoral system and believe candidates ought to have access to the ballot.

Is he the best choice?

That isn't decided here. That is not the question before you today. That question is decided ONLY on Election Day, and ONLY in two places:

  • the ballot box
  • your home, if you refuse to vote, and you oppose him/her

Should candidates be allowed to access the primary?

The point of a petition is to get on the ballot. Signing this is a "vote" for open elections. It's not a real vote. Not least, this is non-exclusive: it does not "use up" your signature and you can sign political allies onto the ballot also. As well you should. It will not do a thing to get him elected.

I'm a board member and I make or second motions I oppose all the time, simply because I want discussion to begin. In the discussion I say my piece, and I am often against a thing. Refusing to move or second is saying the discussion shouldn't be allowed to happen. That is sometimes appropriate, but it is that.

Refusing to sign says "I don't think you should even run".

  • "you are such a horrible person that the electoral process itself needs to be protected from you" is way too extreme, and pretty disrespectful to the OP. Odds of that being what it meant to him are slim to none. – barbecue Feb 21 at 17:55
  • Signing petitions is not an obligation, and your answer implies that failing to sign petitions for people you disagree with is somehow a rejection of the process. That's simply not true. Signing a petition does not have only the meaning you suggest. You should probably moderate the tone of your answer to be less ranty. Pointing out your own interpretation of what it means to sign a petition is fine, but claiming that yours is the only reasonable one is not. – barbecue Feb 21 at 18:00
  • @barbecue okay. Edited. – Harper - Reinstate Monica Feb 21 at 18:05
  • 1
    Upvoted after edit. – barbecue Feb 21 at 18:08
  • Be aware that in one crucial aspect, this is jurisdiction specific. In the UK, nominating someone to appear on a ballot does "use up a vote". You cannot then nominate any other person to appear on the same ballot. It wouldn't surprise me if other States in the US had the same rule. – Martin Bonner supports Monica Feb 24 at 12:17
1

The whole thing isn't about signing. It's about how to fight someone who is trying to coerce you with fear to doing something they want, without triggering them off.

If you know your boss would be against this, mention it to him or somehow troll him to ask you for the signature while in his presence. The point is to just CYA for after when he realizes that you don't want to sign for him and are therefore marked as an enemy by a toxic person. This is solely for that your boss has some chance to realize why he would have started badmouthing you suddenly.

You could also just sign it, you can still mention it to your boss that he is going around asking for signatures. It is very unlikely to make any difference and it's fairly unlikely anyone is going to go through the signatures to single you out for your political preference. The reason I say it's very unlikely to make any difference is that if he is struggling to get enough signatures he is very unlikely to get enough votes in the actual election, making it all just a huge waste of time.

The question boils down to how to decline an aggressive persuasion without angering the person - when his persuasion tactic is basically that if you don't agree he will get angry. He will use things like arguing that you lose nothing by signing it. As you've already gone the play time route you have kind of lost the golden chance of using deflection, making a decline and telling him what he should be doing instead: going to the mall, city square or whatever it is where the elderly hang out to ask for signatures from the elderly. Because that's how you get signatures. not by harassing your coworkers.

The whole point of the deflection would be to make them feel like you helped them despite declining on the thing they were asking you to do. That explicit advice would help their chances though so it has that downside.

1

This is not about you, it is about him. Assuming that signing does not constitute making an endorsement or require that you join his party or anything, then refusing to sign it when you know he meets the residency requirements is really just a selfish way of making his project about you.

Keep it about him and stay classy by signing his papers. It might even help motivate you to go out and vote when the time comes - for his opponent of course.

1

Is there any reason you couldn't simply sign the petition and then simply not vote for him when(/if) he's on a ballot? You could even vote for his competition at that point. Chances are quite low that your single signature will make or break his trek to public office.

There's certainly a passive-aggressive tone to this approach (a certain POV might even call it cowardly), but all you really want is to avoid stress with this guy--and you see him on a regular basis, so...

I'd just sign the thing and get back to work. At least as long as signing the petition doesn't require me to campaign on his behalf or wear a t-shirt saying vote for Mike!

Not technically an answer to the question, but a potential solution nonetheless.

Of course since votes are a matter of public record, there may be drawbacks to having your signature have been a part of his endeavor. Can't help ya there. :,)

0

If you really need an answer that will get you out of it- tell him you're not registered to vote. People who aren't registered don't count for signatures, so yours would hurt him instead of help.

  • 1
    Unless OP is registered to vote. Lying is not a good solution. – Seth R Feb 20 at 22:20
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    @SethR Lying is a perfectly good solution when its none of their business to begin with. You have no obligation to be truthful to people if your intent isn't to defraud. – Gabe Sechan Feb 20 at 22:21
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    This would only work in countries where you have to register to vote, like the US, but we don't know where the OP lives. Anyway, this strategy could lead the colleague to insist that the OP register (and then sign his petition, of course), leading to further discussions. – Fabio says Reinstate Monica Feb 21 at 16:11
0

Tell him that you are sorry, but that you do not get involved in politics at work, and that doesn't like political, sales or religious solicitation on the job.

That's all you need to say without being impolite. If he doesn't get it and continues with his soliciting, then he's the impolite one.

It's ok to worry about being polite, but worry more about your well being. Do you want to be seen as being part of political solicitation at work?

0

I've been in this position as the person seeking to get on the ballot. In Colorado, the ballot was just to get on the ballot; it was not an endorsement nor was it any sort of "I promise to vote for this guy". Non-partisan political positions required a petition of registered voters who lived in the district. More than half the signatures I got were for people named M. Mouse or D. Duck who lived at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue or 1060 West Addison.

When people said "no", I accepted that. Some said that they preferred to vote for "the other guy". And that's OK - that's what democracy is about. Some people did need an explanation of what the position did, and what the petition process was for.

In your case, just say "no". "No" is a complete sentence. It is not rude. Avoid JADE (Justify, Argue, Defend, Explain) as it tends to: cause people to reinforce their existing beliefs and give the person you are talking with free ammunition to use against you.

0

I would suggest something softer than just a plain "No", namely:

I'm not really interested in signing it.

It gets the point across, I think, with a bit more detachment than "No", while still avoiding trying to give an explanation that might come back to haunt you later.

If you get pressed as to "why?" you can reply with "I'm just not interested, sorry." Not being interested is enough of a reason in itself that it should be sufficient for anyone who doesn't intend to tick you off. If you keep getting pressed with "but why??", then you can snap back with "...do I have to provide a reason?" to end the discussion.

protected by Community Feb 20 at 15:01

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