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  • Approved for CNN

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    Posted August 4, 2013 by
    JuleeK
    Location
    Fes el Bali, Morocco
    Assignment
    Assignment
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    African culture: Street art

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    CNN PRODUCER NOTE     iReporter JuleeK was intrigued while traveling in Morocco to see these marked out boxes on the walls of the oldest part of Fes. Moroccan colleagues told her that the boxes were marked with numbers for each of the country's political parties to place election posters, so that they don't clutter the city's walls. In addition, she says, the boxes have symbols so that illiterate members of the population can pick out the correct symbol on their ballot papers. "Although the walls are not what you might stereotypically think of as street art, I can see the benefits they bring -- both to the city and to the people," she said.
    - sarahbrowngb, CNN iReport producer

    Perhaps this does not truly qualify as street art but when I first saw it, that’s what I thought it was.

    Everywhere I went in the medina in Fes, Morocco, I saw these numbered boxes painted on the walls. My initial reaction was who would deface centuries old walls with such crude drawings. It wasn’t until I returned from Morocco that what I mistook as graffiti is actually a very simple yet very effective communications tool.

    I learned that these are election boxes. Morocco has a multi-party political system and each party is assigned a numbered box that also represents the district that people have to go to to vote for the party. I think I saw as many as twenty numbered boxes! Campaign posters are also officially limited to these spaces so parties cannot plaster their campaign notices over just any available surface.

    Some parties have iconic symbols that represent them so instead of posters, they use spray paint and stencils to paint the image of their party’s symbol on the wall. When I first saw the election art, I was particularly curious about the symbols; many looked like hieroglyphics to me. They are in fact, icons representing the parties. In a country where nearly 40 percent of the population is illiterate, people just associate a symbol with the party. A bird is for example the symbol of the democratic party, a butterfly is the symbol of the socialist party, etc.

    No doubt this is a very low tech way for political parties to connect with the voting public but if all that a person needs to know is to pick out the bird on a ballot form, they can easily cast their vote and that makes this simple method of communications a very effective one.

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