Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Not all signs point to a new election cycle

by: Will Gilmer

All signs point to the 2016 Election Cycle now being officially upon us.

Well, all signs except the ones from past elections that still cling to utility poles scattered across Lamar County. 

Candidates generally collect and remove their campaign signs in the weeks following elections, but there are always a forgotten few that manage to stick around for an election or two too long. For example, the 2014 battle for one county office was still being waged on a power pole near my farm a full 13 months after it was decided. And I know there are campaign signs elsewhere in the county that go back at least as far as the 2012 General Election (Mitt Romney for President, anyone?). 

Campaign signs from the 2014 General Election occupy a lofty position
above one for the 2016 Primaries at a busy intersection between Vernon and Sulligent (Nov. 2015)
So why do some candidates...and we know some are more guilty than others...neglect to remove their campaign signs after an election? Let's explore some possible reasons:
  • The county will do it for them. This is particularly true of signs stuck in the ground along the right-of-way following the primary election. Why wade through the overgrown grass fighting snakes and chiggers and who knows what else when the county will eventually remove the sign with a bush-hog?
  • Lack of record-keeping. Lamar County's not a big place, but there are many miles of rural roads running throughout her in every conceivable direction. I am sure it would be easy to lose track of where some signs are placed if meticulous records aren't kept. And if signs displayed along some of our less-traveled roads aren't mapped, they may simply be out of sight and out of mind.
  • Fewer volunteers post-election. It stands to reason that candidates have more people willing to place signs than remove them. Not only does that mean volunteers are doing more work after the election, they may be responsible for finding and removing signs they didn't personally put up.
  • College football. Would you rather spend your November Saturdays running around the countryside removing signs or watching the stretch run of the college football season? Yeah, that's what I thought.
  • Deer Season. (see above)
  • Build name recognition. Some candidates may be leaving their signs up in a calculated political effort to build stronger name recognition for the future. Of course, they run the risk that their name recognition will come in the form of, "I wish that lazy --- would come take his --- sign down. I'm tired of seeing his --- name every time I drive by here!"
  • Save money for next time. Let's face it, it's a lot cheaper for an incumbent to drive around with a red Sharpie and write "Re-" in front of the word "Elect" on their original campaign signs than it is to get a whole new batch printed up. And with the good weather- and UV-resistant material signs are made of these days, there's no reason to think they won't last until it's time to hit the campaign trail again.
It's 110 more days until our primary election, and new campaign signs will be popping up all over the county between now and then. Just remember, not every campaign sign you'll see will point to a name that will actually be on the next ballot.

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