Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Real Semiotics

One half of the semi-Obamians made his way to a polling place today in New Hampshire, where he held election signs for the Democrats. At this polling place, he was one of 11 Democrats holding signs compared to six Republicans. 

Some observations:

*The signs themselves were fairly low tech--just graphic designed and stapled to a wood stick. Actually, some were taped--they didn't hold up as well. I cut myself a bit on a staple, and the foldout sign I had for Paul Hodes, the Democratic candidate for Congressman I had to balance on my foot. 
    There does not seem to a particularly high tech way to do the signage. It was somewhat comforting to think that in an age of high tech voting targeting, sign holding still came down to a basic technique that's probably decades if not centuries old.
   In a sense the act of voting and the sign holding are part of the same low-tech dynamic that comes down to choosing and helping others choose.
*Both the other Obama volunteer and I had to call into the headquarters for Obama signs--both of us were holding up signs for candidates who we had not heard of. I guess that's to be expected if you work outside of your voting area.
*The idea of standing and holding signs is rather strange but required because signs, at least in New Hampshire, cannot be left unattended. The election official took unattended signs and put them near the dumpster, causing one holder to ask if anyone had stolen the signs after she had come back from a break.
*There were sign stories. People talked about the cold and rainy conditions in which they had held signs for their candidates. One said, she had been holding signs for "twenty years." I said I had been holding signs "for an hour."
*I was cold. I didn't know my job when I left for the campaign today, so I dressed like a college professor with a corduroy blazer. Though it got warmer later, my hands and feet were numb. The New Hampshire natives were much better dressed.
*I felt a mix between human and sign; one of the Republican sign holders thanked people for voting. The only talking I did was to other volunteers. But I felt my function was more as a sign than a human. And I liked "visibility" because I could help without talking to more strangers; I didn't mine being read....


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