Maybe we need a new way to elect our leaders.

Likely voter turnout by Lowndes County’s registered voters Tuesday was in the low double digits ... again. That sounds like a mandate of an apathetic populace that wants to do things differently.

May I suggest the election process take on the prospects of a real competition. One not judged by votes but rather by the abilities of the contestants. All sorts of abilities: physical prowess, speed, efficiency and a wee bit of deviousness.

Maybe the winner of elections should be the candidate who removes his signs the quickest.

You know those signs: Vote for Joe Schmoe. Granted, we’ll likely have  runoff elections in a few weeks so some of those signs should remain, but a whole lot of the signs we’ll see in the next few days will belong to a candidate who has already lost.

If Joe Schmoe has lost already, Joe Schmoe should take down his signs. If he wants to be a public servant so bad, he should do the public a service and take his signs down.

So that should be the contest. The candidate who can remove all of his or her signs first wins.

Well, you may ask, if that’s the case then why would a candidate post any signs? Why would a candidate bother? As tempting as it would be not to have to see Vote for Joe Schmoe signs beside mailboxes, crab grass, empty beer bottles, dead armadillos, all while teetering along roadside ditches, each candidate would be required to post signs.

In fact, they would receive signs. But not signs bearing their names. They would receive signs for their opponents. So Joe Schmoe would get his opponent Cindy Schmindy’s signs. Joe would get as many Cindy signs as Cindy gets Joe signs.

Weigh the taxpayer cost of say 500 thin cardboard signs per candidate with the cost of running an actual election. Taxpayers would come out way ahead. Shoot, the qualification fee could be the cost of a candidate printing his opponents’ signs.

The signs would also serve a purpose in identifying the candidates. Sure, we’re not voting for them under this new system, but what red-blooded American doesn’t want a side to root for in a competition?

Candidates would post these signs, with election officials knowing all sign locations. Any sign moved prior to election day would be considered tantamount to voter fraud. If a sign is placed on someone’s private property, it must stay there. However, property owners can do all within their power to disguise these signs if they belong to a candidate whom they despise, or highlight them if the sign bears the name of someone whom they support ... or is that the other way around?

Come election day, the candidates would gather like they would for an actual race. They would then speed across the city and county removing the signs bearing their names. They could have help. They couldn’t pay for someone to help remove the signs, but they could use volunteers as backers to help them find and remove the signs.

First candidate to find and remove all of the signs wins. Once a winner is declared, the other candidates must continue removing signs. Any runner-ups who don’t remove the rest of their signs could never run for public office again. And perhaps the public would be allowed to throw trash at them until all of the signs are removed.

And boom, in one fell swoop, leaders are elected and all of those campaign signs are down.

You know, I’ll bet such a contest could become so popular, it would be watched like a sporting event. Or a reality TV show. Just imagine, a reality TV scenario might get the public so excited about an election that people may actually pay money to vote for our leaders by cell phone or text message.

Lord knows, they don’t seem to enjoy voting for them for free. And in an age when a reality TV star can become president, well ...

Dean Poling is an editor with The Valdosta Daily Times.

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