Guest opinion: The ‘Meh’ Ballot

  • Wednesday, October 31, 2018 1:30am
  • Opinion

Most of us will ignore our splendid Clallam County Voters’ Guide, a treasure trove of information. It is tedious. After all, it’s a book. Today, reading is just not woke.

Some will flip its pages solely to size up candidates by their photos — or lack thereof. What the heck, if it’s acceptable to choose life partners by swiping right or left, why not pick public officials this way? (Hint to candidates: selfies are inevitably low scoring … and never include animals.)

Leagues and Associations and Organizations and Committees and Societies and Editorial Pronouncements and hand-wringing uncles all beg us to look the candidates over. Few do.

Past election results show that one-fifth of us — more than 9,900 in the Clallam Constituency, 20 percent! — can’t bring themselves to find their black crayon, spend a minute coloring inside the lines, and then drop a symbol of the most precious of our constitutional rights into the mail. No stamp required!

There’s an answer. Disconnected voters can gather all the candidate information they need through their windshields. One of the most soul-baring decisions a candidate makes is choosing the signs placed adjacent to a thoroughfare.

I suggest a car game — “The ‘Meh’ Ballot” — that evaluates political signs as if they were actually the candidates. A game designed for the times, it’s an engaging combination of inconsequential information and the vacuousness of screen communications. Perhaps gamesmanship can coax our bystanders back to Democracy.

Some suggested award categories and sample evaluations:

With the MPH Award, judges honor communication skills by measuring the highest speed at which a candidate’s sign can be read. (Note: no laws were broken during these evaluations, as a complex algorithm — now under patent review — substituted for the thrill of wind-through-the-hair testing.)

Hands down, Benedict wins with a 175 mph score; Nichols was a close second at 165 mph. Wilke planted a 195 mph jumbo that was unfortunately eliminated because added endorsement placards were unreadable. Further, the sign was wastefully placed in a 40 mph traffic zone.

(An observation: Candidates seeking jobs in law enforcement — judge, prosecutor, sheriff — dominate in their combined road sign square footage. The library initiative(s) signs can be measured in square inches. So much for the power of the pen.)

In the Clip Art Choice Award, signs utilizing stars, flag-suggestive stripes, or a red/white/blue color scheme were eliminated from this competition (Pandering Rule violations.) Regrettably, no prize was awarded. Arguments between judges regarding the hidden meanings of chosen artworks nearly rose to fisticuffs.

As for winners … let the reader be the judge. Gardiner: many houses. Winborn: one big house. Nichols: a marble column. Tharinger: mountainous squiggles.

In the Graphic Design Awards category, Dave Neupert’s signs project the printed page, a no-gray, black and white world. Judgmental! Hiking cross-field to get close to one of these monoliths — I should have packed a snack — revealed the apparent black to be actually blue. Chameleon-esque? Most of the gals (no letters please) — Barkhuis, Winborn, Hayden and Gardiner — all departed from tradition by choosing multi-colored backgrounds. Change? Innovation? Not Him? Tharinger went red, defying his party’s preferences. Maverick?

The Missed Opportunity for Humor Award goes to Jim McLaughlin, the only candidate who chose to show us what he looks like. Considering the office he is seeking (sheriff), he might have chosen both a profile and a head-on photo.

Bill Benedict receives the Literacy Award for using a three-syllable word: “Commitment.” (It should be noted that Bill’s 175 “mph” First Place was all the more impressive considering his tendency toward multi-syllabicity)

The Invisibility Award goes to Selina Barkhuis, whose choice of Northwest fall colors allows the landscape to devour her essay-like message. Eliminated from the mph competition with a score of 2, even a sign walk-by required a pause for reading.

Would that we could cast our votes based upon how quickly these candidates make their campaign littering disappear. We’ll be watching — through our windshields.

Greg Madsen is a Clallam County resident.

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