Political signs, signs everywhere in York County


Like spring flowers, political yard signs seemingly rise from the ground this time of the year in York County.

The signs, touting the names of candidates running in the May 19 primary, can be found along most major roads, springing up on the corners of busy intersections, and even along the lonely country lane.

With so many signs, how does a candidate make his or her sign stand out?

For York County Court of Common Pleas candidate Kathleen Prendergast, that meant picking a color no other candidate was using. She wanted to incorporate green into her signs, an homage to her Irish heritage, but fellow candidate Mike Flannelly was already using green on his signs.

After consulting friends, Prendergast landed on the color scheme of a maroon background with her name spelled out in blue and white lettering.

"I wanted to keep it a little simple but still stand out," she said. "If there's a sea of blue (signs), you want to really stand out."

Primary colors: What colors are used on signs can say a bit about what message a candidate wants to get across to voters, an advertising expert said.

For example, bright, vibrant colors typically means a candidate is energetic and wants to bring about change, said Mandy Arnold, president of Gavin Advertising in York City.

"It's really about what's reflective of their message," she said. "Each color evokes a certain type of emotion. A lot of people don't realize they're affected by colors and font."

Blue and red states: In an age when the nation is systemically divided into blue states and red states, one would think Republican candidates would mainly use red on their signs while Democrats would stick with blue.

But that's not always the case.

Former U.S. Congressman Todd Platts, a Republican who is now a York County judge, has traditionally used a blue background with white lettering on his sign.

Sandie Walker, a Democrat running for York City council, opted to go with red as the primary color for her signs.

"I think, from my perspective, I've seen a lot of Republicans with blue and Democrats with red," said Alex Shorb, head of the York GOP.

Getting the votes: Though the signs — some corrugated plastic and others corrugated cardboard — help get a candidate's name out there, they don't always transcend to votes on Election Day.

"Yard signs don't vote," said Bob Kefauver, chairman of the Democratic Party of York County. "That's really what it comes down to."

A few yards help create name recognition, but Kefauver said he tells candidates to instead spend campaign funds, which are often limited, on informational materials, such as mailers.

It's not uncommon for a candidate to win the political sign battle but lose the election war, he said.

"You have to give the voters a reason to vote," Kefauver said.

— Reach Greg Gross at ggross@yorkdispatch.com.