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Vote ‘No’ to election waste

Opinion

Vote ‘No’ to election waste

Jane Stephens is sick of the visual pollution that accompanies the lead-up to any poll and wonders when candidates will see the light.

Look for the signs. They will help guide your way, they say. “I saw the sign and it opened up my eyes”, Ace of Base sang.

Except, the signs didn’t affect my peepers. They just made me cranky.

Elections in this country involve a lot of signs, along with a lot of printed materials and a lot of wastage.

There are many rules around election signs regarding size, content and placement. They must carry authorisation and interfering with them is a criminal offence. There are rules around how many can be put up on election day and at pre-polling spots – six and two respectively, if anyone is interested.

But I think they should not be allowed at all. Not anymore. Not everywhere.

Surely in this era of environmental-impact awareness, loads of honking signs are not just considered visual pollution, but physical junk as well. Add to that, to endure the weeks out in the elements, they must be made of plastic, which we all know never breaks down. And as far as I know, there is no obvious second-life plan for these eyesores, post-March 16.

The glut of signs also lays bare a grave inequity. The more money a candidate has, the more times you get socked in the eye with their face on a sign. There is no designated limit. They might not be better for the job, but their budget ensures you think they are keenest for it.

Signs are scattered willy-nilly, too, which makes them extra annoying. Surely, it is not too much to ask to have a designated space or two within each division where screens are erected with candidates’ faces and names rotating.

The heavy reliance on printed material in elections is also outdated and unwanted. My mailbox has not seen so much action for years, and I have even received material from candidates standing for a division other than mine.

We will no doubt get how-to-vote pamphlets thrust in out faces, come election day, when we will cast our ballots (somewhat concerningly, with a flick of a pencil, not a permanent pen) as we stand in cardboard cubicles – the only element in this whole circus that gets reused.

And it is not over yet. The state government election is in October and, with its own rules on campaigning, the signs are that the waste-fest will continue.

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Jane Stephens is a USC journalism lecturer, media commentator and writer.

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