Now, these aren’t substantive signs. They just have a name and the office they are running for. They tell you nothing about the candidate or what they stand for or plan to do once in office.
But I have been told that the person with the most signs usually wins. It is called name recognition. If you recognize the name on the ballot verses a name you never have seen before you vote for the familiar name. Back in the ‘70s students at a college took this to the extreme when they ran a dog with a common name for homecoming queen and she won. They just put up signs “Elect Missy Smith Homecoming Queen.” The fact that she was a dachshund apparently was not relevant.
I don’t know if any dogs are running for office but you get my point. Is the guy with the most signs a reformed ax murderer or a community activist? If he is running for re-election, did he do a good job? If not, then vote him out of office. We as voters need to change some of our Pavlovian responses.
This will take a little effort on the part of the voters. We may have to go online to see if the candidate has a Web site or make some calls to the candidate themselves. The newspapers do a pretty good job of profiling the candidates but it is not in-depth.
I also recommend going to some of the town hall type meetings and hear what the candidates have to say. If you still can’t get any information ask your friends what they know about a candidate. If you have been unable to get any information you don’t have to vote for any candidate. Just voting for the candidate who put up the most signs means you are just voting for the person who had a bigger budget.
Being able to vote is not just our right, it is our obligation. It is worth a little bit of our time and effort to get the information we need to make an informed decision. Seeing someone’s name in print lets us know who is running but it doesn’t mean we should vote for them. We need to look a little deeper.
Jeff Blanck is an attorney in private practice in Reno. He can be reached at: email@example.com.