The concept of vandalism of election advertising billboards has, thankfully, been kept to a low key in Wairarapa.

I know there is an expected casualty rate come every election, and some of the defacings have, dare I say it, been quite imaginative.

The dirty tricks aren't just limited to your standard hooligan. In the 2011 election, Jolyon White, a Green Party member, co-ordinated the vandalism of 700 National billboards with overlay stickers saying "The rich deserve more" and "drill it, mine it, sell it". The Green Party condemned the actions and apologised to National.

While I thought the 2011 vandalism against National was quite sophisticated, I have watched volunteers return time and time again with trailers, pulling up on SH2 and patiently resurrect a sign that has been kicked over or defaced. It's not until you get up close to some of these signs that you realise how large they are. It needs two people, sometimes more, to keep these signs shipshape. It's a lot of work - and it's honest work.

Advertisement

In Masterton, we publicised the actions of two men who faced court on charges of defacing National Party billboards. They later went on to our Facebook site to defend themselves against the scorn of the community.

Now, the National and Conservative parties are setting up motion sensor cameras to try to fight the vandalism, while the others, I guess, rely on word-of-mouth and volunteers spotting the damage.

Whatever a person might feel about a candidate's policies, there is such a thing as honest, hardworking campaigning. It's real work, it's long days, and it's really only for a couple of months. You might not like a candidate, and that's fine - you don't have to vote for them. You can turn up to a candidates' session, and ask them a sticky question. But simply kicking down a sign suggests you have no particular thoughts about the election. All you are is a vandal, no better than some guy with a spray can and a blank wall.

Electioneering might seem like a show, but don't forget the effort that goes into it. Those signs are there for two reasons: to persuade you to vote for a candidate, but also to remind you this is a country that welcomes your freedom to vote.