Political Yard Work

Commissioners Explore Effectiveness Of Lawn Signs

Signs campaigning for George Borrello for New York State Senate and Andrew Liuzzo for Jamestown mayor decorate the intersection of Washington and W. Eighth streets in Jamestown. P-J photo by Eric Zavinski

With the New York State primary election coming up June 25, campaign signs for local politicians are about to have their last week in the sun.

Chautauqua County commissioners of elections, Republican Brain Abram and Democrat Norm Green, shared contrasting opinions on campaign signs and offered insight regarding how effective the marketing measure can be for candidates.

“All advertising is good advertising,” Green said, and he commented on how he advises candidates to put as much effort in signs forward as needed to win an election.

Green said that more signs posted for a candidate results in better chances of that person getting elected. He said it also increases voter turnout, but Green said he wishes more campaign signs would advertise the date of the election this time of year. He said he’s not seen any current campaign signs do that and suggested that as a reason why voter turnout in the county is expected at about 10%.

Abram’s motto for signs: “the simpler the sign, the better.” He said signs should just include the name of the candidate and what office he or she is running for. In his experience advising candidates, Abram said long phrases are not effective.

He also advocates for moderation in sign placement. He said having too many signs “just becomes noise” and that “everything needs to be in balance.”

Green said a high volume of signs helps a candidate by enforcing name familiarity and matching or exceeding the competition.

“Some of it’s subliminal,” Green said.

Abram said that strategic locations for signs help keep an aesthetic balance while still reminding potential voters of an upcoming election.

“Signage in those signage wars are overrated,” Abram said. “That, in my opinion, is disruptive to the process.”

Both commissioners agreed that certain recommendations should be followed, including keeping signs out of the right-of-way and not placing signs in front of public institutions such as schools and churches.

Abram mentioned that signs should never be moved without permission or placed in yards without the consent of property owners. He also recommended that all candidates get in touch with zoning officials to ensure signs look presentable.

Green may think campaign signs are more important and effective than Abram does, but the Democratic commissioner also acknowledged that campaign signs are one part of a multi-pronged marketing approach leading into elections. He said he believes increased signage may encourage people to vote more, but he wasn’t as optimistic about signs getting potential voters to do research on candidates.

Various local races will be decided by voters June 25.

Follow Eric Zavinski at twitter.com/EZavinski