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Long Live the Election Lawn Sign

This Magazine Staff

There are some people out there that hate election lawn signs. Some find them ugly things that clutter our landscape and advertise incorrect grammar. Others find the idea of publicly declaring who you’re voting for vulgar. Points out my partner, “It’s supposed to be a secret!”
And that’s fine, if you want to keep who you vote for a secret then go for it. But to me, there’s nothing ugly or vulgar about telling the world that you take part in democracy and that you’ve already decided who your allegiances belong to. Because of that, I encourage people to get their own lawn sign as a way of both celebrating the election and educating themselves on it. After all, most people probably aren’t going to put up a sign without first doing a little research on the candidate and the party that s/he represents.
As for the celebrating part, think of lawn signs as being to an election as what garland and lights are to Christmas, helping to set the tone and the mood for the big day. Here in my Toronto riding of Parkdale-High Park, lawn signs are everywhere, with the Liberals and the NDP splitting the majority of them. The result is the feeling that the election is a big deal and that it’s something that we should all be participating in. I truly believe that all of these signs create the kind of politically intense, competitive atmosphere that encourages discussion, debate and a higher turnout at the polls.
Signs are also an in-your-face reminder that hey, it’s election time and here are your candidates. As for whether or not more signs equals more votes, a study of an Ontario riding during the 2004 election by Munroe Eagles, a professor of political science and Canadian studies at the University of Buffalo, found that each lawn sign added nearly 0.7 percent of a vote for a candidate. So it’s not a huge number, but in a tight race, every little bit helps.
Besides, election signs are a great way to learn a bit about your neighbours since a sign is basically a public declaration of one’s values and priorities. I grew up in a small rural Alberta town, the type of place where (in the ’90s anyway) you’d assume that everyone would vote Reform in a federal election. But come election time there plenty of signs for the Conservatives, the NDP and even the Liberals. Sometimes these signs confirmed my existing impressions of certain people while other times they showed that I was completely wrong; that it was possible to drive a massive truck, work in the oil and gas industry and vote NDP.
To further show my support for the election lawn signs, I’ve gathered some links below that will help you easily locate the major party candidates in your riding. From there, getting your own lawn sign is just one email or phone call away.

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