We need a Limit on Election Posters

16 February, 2011

We have become used to the idea of spending limits for election candidates.  I have yet to see a serious suggestion that there should be a limit imposed on the number and size of posters that candidates erect for every election.

Consider these facts:

  • to a large extent candidates only erect posters to counteract the fact that their opponents are doing so, and failure to “front up” with thousands of posters might be seen as evidence of a lacklustre campaign; just as we had a nuclear disarmament treaty, we now need a postering decommissioning regulation
  • election posters are almost invariably uninformative as to policy, consisting only of a carefully taken (and touched up) photo of the candidate, and an exhortation to Vote No.1 for Joe Schmoe (the suggestion that a party’s second candidate should also be supported can sometimes be found, but in the smallest print size that decency allows)
  • posters are damaging to the environment, whether in their manufacture, their printing, their propensity to cause litter, or their subsequent disposal
  • erecting posters is a time-consuming and energy-intensive procedure
  • posters, as erected in Ireland, are a danger to life and limb; this is because they often cause obstruction of pathways and the covering up of, or the distraction from, road signs for motorists
  • many jurisdictions do not allow uncontrolled postering, and some go as far (in local elections at least) as to insist that all candidates limit themselves to a poster or statement which are collectively erected at one central position in the electoral area

Why not impose a limit of (say) 500 square metres of poster area per candidate in a general election?  He/she could choose whether to go for lots of small posters, or fewer but larger ones.  I suspect everybody would be relieved at such a regulation, which would allow the focus to be on more productive aspects of campaigning.


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