Political signs do little to help voters make choices
The Outdoor Circle wants candidates to limit the number and size of political signs they put up.
LIKE late-summer lychee crops, political signs are blooming as candidates post placards on fences and in yards all over town.
While legal opinion has it that restrictions on their placement on private property and on how long they can be displayed would violate free speech guarantees, public opinion may weigh in on a different issue -- visual pollution.
At least that's what the Outdoor Circle hopes in asking candidates to abide by the group's guidelines to limit the number and size of signs and calling for residents to tell candidates if they feel the signs are overkill.
But all signs really do is tell voters who is running for what office, political affiliation and maybe favorite colors and taste in graphic design. For new candidates, getting their names out is important. For incumbents, the signs serve as reminders -- positive or negative -- to voters as to who their current representatives are and nothing more.
Candidates aren't likely to be rejected solely because they've plastered too many signs in too many places, but they could win more votes if they talked more directly to citizens about their ideas and positions on important issues.
Voter indifference runs high in Hawaii, as turnout out at the polls indicate. The state's reputation for low voter numbers even sparked an attempt to have the federal government oversee voting in the state. An amendment to the Voting Rights Act, however, failed to gain support in the U.S. House last week.
In yesterday's Star-Bulletin, political writer Richard Borreca reported that political insiders lay the turnout problem on cynicism and what some perceive as a cumbersome voting process. Polling difficulties aside, the sentiment among voters seems to be that one politician is like another and that no clear choices are offered.
Candidates would do well, then, to define their values and discuss policy strategies so voters can determine the differences among them. They need to stir citizens to vote rather than just giving them a name.
At the same time, voters have a job to do, too. If they want better government, they must take the time to examine candidates and their stands on significant issues. Basing choices on who has the most or who has the fewest signs is shirking true voter responsibility.
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