Political Signage Disputes Continue Across Arizona and Texas
Approximately 85 million households across the United States have private lawns. Year after year, property owners can be found out in their yards mowing, planting gardens, and just relaxing. Every few years, however, many homeowners decide on sticking political campaign signs in their yards to raise awareness for their desired candidates.
According to a recent study, over 40% of respondents said that they hard first board about a local police candidate from a sign. Without signage influencing these people, two out of five people may have voted in a different manner simply because there was no name recognition for the candidate.
Unfortunately, though these signs can help inform some people, others might take offense to certain political signals. According to Ahwatukee Foothills news, in Arizona, political signs were ripped out of the lawn outside the Ahwatukee Recreation Center and tossed into the dumpster. Even campaign workers were harassed during the recent November mid-term elections.
Whoever was responsible for the harassment was bipartisan, as all candidates’ signs were removed and both Republican and Democratic campaign workers were chased away.
Margaret Pratt, who was elected to the Kyrene School Board, stated that the harassers even called sheriff’s deputies, but when the officers arrived, they quickly determined the campaign workers were doing nothing wrong.
“The deputies said the election worker was the instigator of the conflict and asked her to return inside,” Cronkite News reported. “Another election worker later came out and apologized for the conflict.”
Disputes like this have raised concerns across the country when it comes to regulating political signs before, during, and after election periods. Some local governments have tried to limit how soon, for how long, or how many signs can be posted. That can be tricky, however, because as soon as those laws are challenged in a court of law, they will likely be struck down as unconstitutional due to their interference with the right of free expression under the First Amendment.
“I would have an issue with taking away my yard signs or even them asking me to remove it,” said Cypress Lefebre, an architectural engineering sophomore at the University of Texas at Austin. “I don’t think it should be enforced. If you want to continue to express your support for a person, you should be able to.”
According to The Daily Texan, if Texas political signs weren’t removed by November 16th, Texans might have to deal with their local homeowners’ association, which has authority from the state to ask residents to remove campaign signs 10 days after the election. The Texas Ethics Commission created this rule in order to promote fair elections and prevent conflict between residents.
“I can’t tell you who’s going to be enforcing that,” added Chris Bishop, a public information officer at the Texas Department of Transportation. “It would really just depend on how aggravated someone gets at campaign signs remaining in place. Realistically, people need to understand that the election is over. If you want to keep your campaign signs, put them up in your living room.”