Road Side Signs: A threat to Democracy


Road signs litter the yards of home owners and street corners.

As a result of the recent elections, John Cranley has been elected the new mayor of Cincinnati. How did he get elected? There is no doubt that political advertisements played a huge role in this or any election for that matter. We see signs in the yards of many people and commercials on TV that tell us to vote for them, but is it an ethical way to sway the votes as much as they do?

Many people vote without looking in-depth to the views and beliefs of the candidate. They simply vote for the candidate whose name they are more familiar with. This is the main purpose of putting out yard signs. Rather the election being completely based on personal views and values of the candidate about the issues and the informed choices of the public, the votes are more often swayed by the wealth of the individual campaigns running and their ability to purchase roadside signs. The elections may come down to name recognition and the votes of those uneducated on the actual issues.

It’s obvious that road side signs are effective in swaying votes based on the tensions that they cause and the sheer amount of them. Perhaps one or more readers of this article may have had the experience of having a sign stolen from their yard. The result of which may have been that they replace the sign with another one only to find that it too is stolen. Although this is illegal, campaign signs often create strong emotional tension from people who see them.

Kevin Flynn understands the emotional appeal of road signs. He played heavily on his disability to attain the empathy from voters. Similarly, Charlie Winburn’s red, white, and blue political sign advertising “Jobs First” appealed to a certain sector of people. The problem with these signs is that even though they elicit strong emotional responses, they do nothing to inform voters of the issues.

In addition, roadside signs have become a nuisance to the public. It seems as though every year more and more appear in the yards of homeowners and the street corners of public property. Driving up Glenway Avenue alone toward Elder, it is hard to count the amount of signs along the street. Sometimes I wonder about the candidates who are unable to afford more than a few signs which are drowned out by the big, wealthy candidates like John Cranley, Charlie Winburn, and Kevin Flynn. Not only are they a nuisance, but it doesn’t seem just that a requirement of being elected to public office is based on money.