Sign, sign, everywhere a sign.
Blockin’ out the scenery, breakin’ my mind
Do this, don’t do that, can’t you read the sign?
Les Emmerson never gets around to mentioning election signs in the lyrics of the Five Man Electrical Band’s biggest hit. That was probably just an oversight, or maybe there just wasn’t an election going on in 1971 when he was penning the lyrics.
But no matter why he omitted election signs, he would probably include them if he could see the state of the scenery covered up by the thousands of election signs lining the sides of the roads and parks in modern elections.
Campaign signs have been around forever, but they’ve gotten cheaper to produce over the years and moved from supporters placing them in their front yards to anywhere and everywhere candidates can manage to put them.
But as the amount of campaign signs grows election by election, we hear more from disgruntled citizens upset with the proliferation.
The jury is out on whether these signs have any chance of swaying a voter from one candidate to another, though putting up a sign in your yard does give you the feeling of doing something real, while not actually volunteering to help out your candidate’s campaign.
Perhaps instead of campaign sign placement being a free-for-all, specific spaces could be set aside in the city for candidates to post their signs. If the spots are high profile enough, candidates would get the same amount of name recognition — the only guaranteed benefit of signs — while reducing the visual pollution.
As a side effect, such a policy would reduce the amount of wasted material — plastics, metal, cardboard, etc. — that goes into the manufacture of elections signs.
After all, election signs don’t vote. Candidates, in any election, would be better off redirecting the time and effort of sign coverage into communicating their message and encouraging people to get out and vote.