Friday’s post sparked a Facebook discussion about the role of signs in elections.
They’re often the first sign of a coming election, sprouting up like dandelions from still-frozen ground. Usually patriotic blue or red, with festive stars, but the last few years, you’ll see attention-grabbing green, purple and yellow.
But how effective are they? Do signs influence elections? They must, or candidates wouldn’t allocate precious campaign dollars towards them.
The irony of the library board situation I mentioned Friday is that this slate of candidates has plastered their green and white signs all over town, including in tree banks and on public right-of-ways where they’re technically verboten. Yet, the same trio hasn’t bothered to attend candidate forums or answer questionnaires about their positions.
While out for a long, slow, cold 7 miler Sunday, I was mulling over the sign conundrum. I started counting the green and white slate signs, losing count when I hit 20. They were often clustered together with other candidates, and seemed to be sprinkled heavily at major intersections.
Also interesting to observe were how the different signs were paired. Officially, our municipal elections are non-partisan. We get to pick three council members out of ten candidates, and one mayor from two candidates. Several alliances have sprung up, some formal, most informal, and this is sometimes reflected by how the signs are grouped.
But not always.
And how do the signs end up so strategically placed? The times I’ve hosted a sign in my yard (including my current Curtin for Council sign), I’ve always asked for it. But I’ve heard numerous anecdotes of signs magically appearing overnight, or disappearing, as the case may be. This seems particularly prevalent on highly visible blocks.
Do residents know who these candidates are when signs appear on their yard? Do they just not bother to remove them? Are they inspired to go look up information on the candidate in question? Do they know that the candidates on their sign refuse to answer questions?
While running Sunday, I paused a couple times to take pictures. I couldn’t get a good, non-glared shot of the biggest sign farm I saw along McLean, where at least a dozen signs clustered in a vacant lot, competing for attention.
Do signs influence your political choices? Would you ever vote for someone just because you see their signs all over the place and think, “Hey, they must be popular/good/wealthy if they have so many signs”? Or do you use signs to become aware of which candidates are running, and do your research from there?