Voters stake their claims
They're colorful, conspicuous and -- these days -- plentiful. With nearly three weeks to go until Election Day, political signs staked into front yards seem to be reproducing overnight. It's hard to say whether there are more this go-around than ...
They're colorful, conspicuous and -- these days -- plentiful.
With nearly three weeks to go until Election Day, political signs staked into front yards seem to be reproducing overnight.
It's hard to say whether there are more this go-around than compared with past elections. But telling by the fleets of signs on some lawns, it's clear several people have caught political fever.
Though an observer might ask: What's the point? Are signs really going to turn the tide in a race?
Joe Miller, a Republican running for state Senate in Walsh County and Drayton, N.D., said the answer is no.
"You're not going to win an election in a yard-sign war, but it kind of shows grassroots support," he said. "It kind of provides a fuel."
Miller said his campaign ordered about 100 yard signs, and by now, they've all found strategic homes in District 16.
"You always try to get one that's prominently placed in an intersection," he said.
Miller prefers his sign be the only one in a yard; fleets of GOP signs don't do it for him. "When you start doing that, it kind of drowns everything out," he said.
Cheryl Bergian, a Democrat vying for the North Dakota Public Service Commission, said this is her first statewide campaign dealing with yard signs, and they've proved to be a logistical challenge.
"They're a project," she said. "They're definitely an investment of time for any campaign that's working with them."
Signs have to be ordered, assembled and distributed. It's the final step that seems to be the trickiest.
Bergian's signs, in some cases, are hocked door-to-door or handed out at party offices. But mostly, her volunteers locate supporters wanting signs by going through campaign rolls and making phone calls.
That's how Democrats got a hold of Chuck Orange.
Orange, who served as a legislator in the '70s, had a fleet of signs aerating his University Avenue lawn. "But I think the kids use them for battering rams or something. ... This is the only one that survived," the 69-year-old said, gesturing to a lone green-and-white sign.
Grand Forks police said Orange's signs aren't the only ones that have met such a fate. The department issued a news release last week describing a rash of sign vandalism and theft.
Margaret Jackson, who teaches at UND School of Law, reported a theft of signs from her yard. She said the officer who showed up predicted that someday soon somebody would fall victim to the classic prank of having dozens of political signs posted in their yard.
Jackson, 42, said she had Democratic signs stolen and that her neighbor lost GOP placards. "It seems to be an equal-opportunity thief," she said.
Aside from vandalism and thievery, Bergian said, another force works against signs.
"Our North Dakota wind can do things to the signs, as well," she said. "The signs in my yard definitely have a tilt from the wind."
For these reasons, Bergian chose a sign made with coated paper and stabilized by a metal frame. "They're heavy enough that the wind doesn't take them easily," she said.
Don Larson, campaign manager for John Hoeven, said the sitting governor has gone with paper signs in the past but this year switched to plastic seeking more durability and a better price.
To assemble Hoeven's hundreds of thousands of signs, Larson said, the campaign crew rolled up their sleeves at sign-making parties.
"What we try and do is get as many of them put together as we can, and then we bundle them up in 25s," he said.
But it's anyone's guess whether all the work that goes into political signage will bear fruit at the polls. At the very least, Miller said, "it allows people to make a statement."
Reach Ingersoll at (701) 780-1269; (800) 477-6572, ext. 269; or send e-mail to email@example.com .