Encyclopedia Brown for District Attorney

Every October, placards touting candidates you’ve never heard of litter yards and medians across the nation. Our writer creates his own campaign signs, and invites you to do the same for our Election Day photo gallery.

I used to live next door to the World’s Biggest Harry Potter Fan, an 11-year-old girl for whom every day was Hogwarts Appreciation Day. On Halloween she would tour the neighborhood dressed as Hermione Granger; whenever J.K. Rowling released a new book she’d disappear entirely, only to stagger out of her house three days later, looking as if she hadn’t slept in 72 hours.

She even found a way to incorporate the 2003 off-year election into her perpetual celebration of all things Potter. A week after the primaries, when the neighborhood became lousy with political signs, she put one of her own on her front lawn, urging voters to “Re-Elect Harry Potter.”

I’ve read the Potter books myself, so as soon as I saw the sign I knew what I had to do: That night, under the cover of dark, I snuck over to her yard and planted my own sign.

Unfortunately, I didn’t make my sign waterproof—not the smartest idea in sunny Seattle—and it only survived two days before getting destroyed by inclement weather.

So I made another. And this time I decided to play along.

The following year’s presidential election gave me a new idea for a political sign. And so I patiently waited for my neighbor to put out her sign, ready to trump her with my own. But, alas, she never did. Perhaps she’d outgrown Harry Potter. Perhaps she was too busy this year. Perhaps I’d made her cry last time and she couldn’t endure the trauma again.

The same thing happened in 2005—I waited for my chance, but the Harry Potter signage was not forthcoming. And then, earlier this year, she and her family moved away.

Well, who needs her? I made my sign anyway, and put it on my front lawn where everyone can see it.

And I’m asking Morning News readers to join me in the fun. And just like in the real U.S. political landscape, there’s no clear winner or loser—and that means everybody wins! In your case the prize is a three-pack of the buttons shown below. These aren’t the large, “political” kind; they’re the small, “apolitical” kind.

This contest is now closed. Thank you to everyone who entered.

Your Mission

1. Create a piece of political advertising—sign, banner, flier, etc.—for a fictitious character. Historical personae are also OK, as long as they weren’t involved in modern politics (e.g., Genghis Khan, yes; Abraham Lincoln, no).

2. Place your paraphernalia somewhere where lots of people will see it.

3. Take a photo and send it to by midnight on Oct. 31 Deadline extended! Photos are now due by midnight, Sunday, Nov. 5. Be sure to include your name, your website (if you have one and want us to link to it), and your mailing address. (We will only publish your city name, not your full address; however, we need to know where to send your buttons.)

We want pictures of real signs—no Photoshop wizardry! This is two-thirds culture jamming and only one-third contest, so we want real ads, out there where motorists will see them and wonder if Bruce Wayne is really running for office on a “Get Tough on Crime” platform.

In making your signs, feel free to assign your candidate to a political party. In doing so, you may claim some literary figure as your own, or use the opportunity to malign the party you most dislike.

We will sort through the entries, select our favorites of the bunch, and publish them on Election Day 2006. We’ll even park the rest in a gallery somewhere, so you can browse through while waiting for early returns.

Have fun, good luck, and don’t forget to vote Encyclopedia Brown for District Attorney!