Not every American cares about politics enough to actually campaign for anyone, and that means one thing for the people that it does matter to: they have to work harder to get people to pay attention and motivate them to vote. Lots of people think these “smaller” elections—comptrollers, sheriffs, mayors, governors, and even members of Congress—don’t have much bearing on anything, which is categorically untrue. If there is an election for public office in any capacity, these people WILL actually be representing you in some way and you should pay attention.
So, my political-minded friends, what can you do to increase attention to these small, albeit still important, elections, and how do you steer focus toward the candidate you want to win? There are some obvious choices: if you have the money and are part of a PAC or something, you can get billboards, commercial air time, or radio spots, which will expose readers and viewers to the fact that there is an election and this very qualified person is running for a specific office. But that kind of money isn’t always feasible.
Luckily, though, there are some other ways to get the word out. Signs are a much more cost-effective attention grabber. Whether you put them on supporters’ lawns, street corners, or anywhere else that it is legal to do so, you can catch the eye of potential voters. If you go this route, there are a few things that you absolutely need to keep in mind:
- As I mentioned, you can only place these signs in legal locations. Putting signs on random stranger’s lawns so they see them first thing Sunday morning when going out for the paper is not going to help your candidate—it will just annoy the people you are trying to persuade. Likewise, signs that you post in illegal locations will likely be removed very quickly. This means that you will have lost the time you spent making the signs and putting them up, not to mention the money spent on materials. So don’t do it. All you accomplish is wasting money and time, and you make your candidate look bad.
- Check for grammar, spelling, and punctuation. It doesn’t have to be Shakespeare, but at the same time, are you going to respect a candidate whose sign says, “Vote Lewis for Cangress”? This might be the first time people are “meeting” your candidate. The last thing you need is to unintentionally make them look like an idiot.
- Once you know what you’re going to say and it has been proofread, have the capability to mass-produce signs. I usually use a hvlp paint sprayer and a stencil. This allows me the freedom to do whatever I want in any color I want. I create the slogan I want to use, make a stencil using a craft knife, and then put it on my desired material. With a quick pass from the paint sprayer, I get the exact same sign every time. It is an excellent and fairly cheap form of quality control. I can also save the stencil for future use—maybe the candidate wins the election and wants to run again in the future. I have found this is cheaper than getting signs printed in the long run. I also like this option because if I am going to a rally where there will be television crews, I can swap out signs from people who failed at step 2 above and give them something that is professional quality and reads correctly. Usually, if you do this politely, people will have no problem with it, so be gentle when doing so.
- Hand them out at campaign headquarters, even if campaign headquarters is your home. Get them into the hands of like-minded people who support your candidate and let them spread like wildfire.
- This is incredibly important: after the election is over, regardless of the outcome, COLLECT ALL THE SIGNS. Recycle them, toss them, save them to reuse next time; whatever you have to do to get them out of the public eye, you need to do. It shows people that you care and are responsible.
I wish you good luck!