Signs, signs, everywhere signs. On your lawn, on my lawn, on everybody's lawn.

And they are there because most of us have no idea why we vote for who we do, and candidates know that. That's why they attempt to make you and me sick by plastering their names on every available wall from Lehi to Santaquin.Politicians know they have a good chance of getting your vote if when you go into the voting booth you can say little more than: "Hey, I know this guy, he'd be a good choice. I remember seeing his name on every lawn in town, so that must mean this is the guy everybody in town is going to vote for so I probably should too."

Who cares that the candidate wants to tear down a senior citizen housing unit and build a bowling alley in its place?

And it's not only the number of signs that matters, it's whose lawns they are implanted in. Candidates don't want their signs on just any ordinary Joe's lawn. They want them on the lawns of church leaders, business owners, other politicians and well-known citizens.

"Obviously if he's going to let that guy put a sign on his lawn then that's who he supports. He was mayor back in 1950 and is now president of the Shrubbery Society, so he should know what he's doing."

So I guess the people who live down the street from me are going to vote for both school board candidates, all County Commission candidates and both congressional candidates. Because my neighbors have about 15 signs on their lawn.

You may think I'm overemphasizing the power of a name in politics, but research shows that it's the power of a name that gets people elected. Because most of us don't take the time or make the effort to find out what each candidate stands for, most of us vote for a candidate because of name familiarity or the party that the candidate represents.

Yes, it's the American duty to vote. But is it the American duty to vote for somebody you know nothing about?

Don't let next month's election come down to who has the most signs on the lawns of the biggest names in town. Be informed and find out what each candidate stands for and cast your votes accordingly.

And don't depend solely on the press for election information. The amount of space a newspaper can devote to each candidate is limited. And as reporters we can write only so much about a debate; seldom do the stories we write include all issues.

My coverage of last week's debate in Orem for county commissioner and county attorney candidates is a good example. Seven people debated for more than two hours on a variety of issues. It would have taken two entire newspaper pages to cover every issue discussed that night.

The only way you can know for sure if you agree with Kay Bryson's responses to Robert Collins' claims is to have been there. How do we expect to know if the things Wayne Hill is saying about the current County Commission are correct if we don't attend a debate and hear the incumbents' side of the story.

So attend a debate and read the candidates' literature. Know what the issues are and how each candidate stands.

We have a choice of who we put in office, so let's base that choice on knowledge and not on a sign on our neighbor's lawn.

(Jim Rayburn, Springville, is a staff writer in the Deseret News' Utah County bureau.)