The Clerk’s Department is preparing changes to the sign by-law to mesh with the new Elections Ontario rules. This by-law covers a lot of things, but the specific area of interest in this case is the section that deals with when election signs may be put up, when they have to be down, their size, and what happens when a candidate puts one up on City property. But there’s no point yet to discuss those changes, since they may may well change.
Let’s consider instead the one change, which they’ve said they aren’t even contemplating, which would benefit absolutely everyone, including the candidates, that change being banning election signs altogether.
Just think. No lawns festooned with ugly sheets of corrugated plastic on wire stands for months on end everywhere you look. No pulled down signs littering those lawns and scattered about the street.
Many candidates agree. One incumbent jumped immediately to defend the idea. And, while a candidate myself, I found that most wish they didn’t have to put them up and maintain them all the time, not to mention the expense and cleanup and disposal after the election.
In most cases, they don’t want to be the only candidate who doesn’t. For one thing, some voters (more than you might think) believe that the number and density of signs shows how popular the candidate is and might vote accordingly. And some will allow anyone and everyone to put a sign on their lawn.
The same concept applies to the signs that will inevitable pop up in restricted locations, most often City property. This is strictly verboten and staff are considering more draconian measures to stop it. But, once that first sign goes up in these spots, the others have to follow.
So why do candidates do it? It’s all in the hopes that the voters are stupid and/or forgetful and will vote for the name they see most often or just plain see last. It has been shown time and again that name recognition is often more important than anything else, including reputation or platform (if they even have one, which many don’t). More than you might think rely on name recognition more than having something to say and going out and let people know it (yes, they sometimes get elected).
But really, what reason have voters to remember those who don’t and won’t?