Restrictions Against Displaying Political Signs

The city government may prohibit you from hanging a large banner in your yard.
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Placing a political sign in the front yard is usually a protected form of freedom of speech, according to the First Amendment Center. In City of Ladue v. Gilleo, the Supreme Court voted unanimously against the city's prohibition of political signs, stating that posting a sign at a residence "carries a message quite distinct from placing the sign someplace else." However, cities are free to put restrictions on signs to ensure an aesthetically appealing environment. If you're not sure of restrictions in your area, check with city hall or the Department of Transportation.

1 Timing

Cities often carry restrictions for when you can display signs of support for a political candidate. This is typically up to three months before the election date and up to 14 days after the election is over. Your city's restrictions may be more strict, though. For example, in Phoenix, Arizona, you must remove the sign within 10 days after the election, but in Dallas, Texas, you only have two days.

2 Placement

Most cities do not allow political signs on the "right of way," even though it might be private property. For example, placing a sign on the strip of grass in front of the home between the sidewalk and road is often forbidden. Some cities have regulations against placing signs on public property at any time. Though the sign may be legal in the days leading up to the election, political signs are not allowed near a polling place, even if that place is private property. The city will designate a specific distance from the polling area where signs are not allowed, such as 150 feet.

3 Wording

Some cities require political signs to carry text stating who paid for the ad. This can be a small statement such as "This sign paid for by the Republican Party of Arizona." In addition to this, the main text of the sign cannot be misleading. For example, if the "for" in the sign "Amanda Sunde for State Senate" was too small, those passing by might not realize that Sunde is not the incumbent.

4 Homeowner's Associations

If you live in a neighborhood with a homeowner's association, the rules are a bit different, according to the First Amendment Center. Though the Supreme Court has upheld a person's right to display political signs, if doing so violates a part of the homeowner's association agreement -- such as a restriction against placing any sign in the yard -- then the homeowner's rule must be followed. However, some states, such as Arizona, California and New Jersey, have passed laws protecting people's rights to display signs, even if in an area with a community association. In these cases, though, the community may have additional regulations regarding size or placement, which the homeowner must follow.

Maggie McCormick is a freelance writer. She lived in Japan for three years teaching preschool to young children and currently lives in Honolulu with her family. She received a B.A. in women's studies from Wellesley College.