It’s that time of year again. You’re driving home for work and you start to notice more and more election signs filling the sides of the roads and intersections on your regular commute. You drive through your neighbourhood and your neighbours are starting to get their signs delivered to them. You can even see a divide between next-door neighbours — some even sharing a lawn, but one with an orange NDP sign and the other with a blue UCP sign.
An election is always a period of competition and rhetoric — which was seen throughout the campaign in this year’s Alberta Election. But, what we don’t see aside from the news articles, social media posts, polls and leadership debate is what really is happening on the battle on the ground.
The day after the election, UCP leader and Premier-elect, Jason Kenney said that there were two campaigns going on — the one taking place online and through social media and the campaign of door-knocking and working hard on the ground.
But, what did happen on the ground? Well, a lot of shady things regarding election signs.
First, there were multiple complaints made by Albertans about lawn signs being put on their properties without even ordering one.
“They have a choice,” explained Deputy Chief Electoral Officer, Drew Westwater told Chat News Today. “It’s on their property, so they can remove it. But, as a courtesy, they can call the campaign office and say ‘I don’t want your sign on my property, why is it up there?’ and find out why they put it up there without their permission. From there, they can have the designated office come and retrieve them.”
Under election legislation there is currently no fines or penalties for putting an election sign on private property without permission.
Another problem has been sign vandalism. In my riding in Calgary-Elbow, I had to drive past a lawn sign that had Alberta Party candidate missing teeth because of ‘sharpie-vandalism.’
And that’s just the beginning. Many candidates from all parties found their election signs either knocked down, spray-painted or ripped apart.
In Edmonton City-Centre, signs for NDP leader Rachel Notley and candidate David Shepherd were vandalized with swastikas and crude language, according to the Edmonton Journal.
NDP candidate Deborah Drever also took to social media to share her shock in campaign sign vandalism. “This was very troubling to wake up to this morning. This type of hate has no place in our province,” says Drever.
And with the vandalizing of signs also came the removal of election signs without permission from candidates or parties.
Alberta Party candidate for Calgary-East, Gar Gar, shared a video of him confronting an individual he caught taking down his signs the day before Albertans hit the polls on election day. Gar says in his post on twitter that this type of behaviour “should not be tolerated.”
CTV Edmonton host, Rob Williams, puts it best when he shares a photo on Twitter of a vandalized Rachel Notley sign. “What is wrong with people?! Why can’t we be better than this?!”