Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Election Signs Confusing?


Maybe because I, like most Torontonians, have suddenly seen so many big, small, coloured, creative and bland election signs of late - I've been thinking a lot about them.

In the Ward 19 debate I attended a while ago, one resident was really angry that Mike Layton (son of Jack in Ottawa) had on a corner of his sign: Re-Elect Chris Bolton School Trustee. His point was that people saying okay for a Layton sign were not asked about incumbent Chris Bolton (who was in some trouble of his own, having used school children to send campaign literature home).

The more I though about this the angrier I became. I think its because it is clearly underhanded and does not respect the right of voters to choose. Or - perhaps it is the sense of entitlement Mr Layton exercises even though he is not yet elected. Or both.

I also think of the little CBC Toronto news snippet done a week or so ago in which they talk about the sudden proliferation of signs, using ward 18 as an example. They spoke with Hema Vyas (who has a link on her website that seems dead now * ) who appeared proud of the fact her signs were out there, as well as Frank de Jong, who commented as a seasoned politician that in the home stretch it is an important sign to voters that a candidate has widespread support.

* Here is a better link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0eE8cU0UnFI

The telling downside of this was that the CBC news reporter interviewed a woman who had a sign on her lawn and asked "Will you be voting for that person?" Her reply was, "I will vote, for sure not for him!" (no mention or view of which him it was.)
Previous posts have dealt with whether election signs really work http://davenportdemocracy.blogspot.com/2010/10/election-signs.html ...
But today I am wondering if they are sensible. Certainly there is the environmental arguments to consider... This Star story talks about an eco-conscious ward 16 Beaches candidate, Sheila Cary-Meagher, who goes to creative lengths to try to make e-signs useful after e-day: http://www.thestar.com/news/elections/article/874190--election-ephemera-candidate-attacks-himself

I've seen comments on a lot of sites where people suggest outright banning of election signs.

What are we saying as candidates to voters when we just put BIG NAMES on their lawn with nothing else, except perhaps a colour choice (Liberal RED, NDP Orange, Green - Green, Conservative - BLUE - except for some strange reason, NDPers Layton and Beaulieu?). Are we just thinking voters can be programmed if we just pound our names into their heads over and over and over and... you get the picture. Where is the respect for voters?

Some do have slogans, but pretty meaningless ones when you think of it:

Committed to Our Community (you'd better be if you want my vote)
Change for the Better (Rob Davis in Moscoe's old ward - prove it I say)
Works With Us, Works For Us (Isn't that a given for the job?)
and even my own, which is at least a hope: Davenport Deserves Better

There is not a lot of pertinent information given out on e-signs.
Maybe they should be banned - or at least better controlled.

We should also remember that with the city campaign contributions rebate program, 3 out of 4 signs you see for any candidate are likely paid for by taxpayers. Is it right that citizens should pay for candidates to get name recognition? Often a local candidate is just building recognition for another office at more senior levels. Or to get more business connections.

Thinking about it all confuses me. Are we confusingvoters too?

*Update: Here's a wonderful YouTube video that shows some greart post-election uses for all those election signs: http://tinyurl.com/2besre9 (My personal favourite is the frisbee)