What are the laws on political yard signs?

I’m sure they vary by jurisdiction but how they vary would also be interesting…

  1. When you obtain a sign directly from the campaign are you required to sign anything re its use? Say you wanted to change and display it to refer to Hillary as a liar or Trump as a Drumpf do you have the right? Perhaps its a copyright or trademark issue and would allow the campaign to take it back.

  2. What means might you use to make sure a supporter doesn’t steal it?

Technically, lawn signs are loaned by the campaign to be ‘hosted’ by a voter. So they remain the property of the campaign, and could be repossessed by them if they are defaced or use in an inappropriate manner. Any amount given to the campaign is legally just a donation, not a purchase of the sign. The campaigns are legally responsible for removing the signs within 10 days after the election, and can be fined if they fail to do so.

There’s very little you could do to prevent it being stolen, other than physically securing it, which is difficult. Possibly surveillance of the yard would help in catching them afterwards, but isn’t likely to prevent them taking it. A lot of signs are damaged/stolen just before the election, on Halloween night. But usually by kids, not political opponents.

The laws vary by jurisdiction. Where are you getting your information from?

A Trump supporter near us has made his own Trump sign. It looks like a nursery school class project; runny black painted misshapened letters, awful keening, the works. It may be some subtle attempt at humor, irony, or shenanigans. Even worse, it may be authentic.

Not all signs are on loan by the campaign.

fwiw, there are funny videos on Youtube of people who have electrified their political yard signs. It is amusing to watch somebody skulk up to the sign, give it a yank while simultaneously getting shocked. Seems like the perps turn out to be neighbors.

And in many jurisdictions, this is illegal.

Agreed. I would think it would/should be illegal in all jurisdictions. The results are still hilarious though.

We’ve had two consecutive “Hillary” signs stolen from the front lawn, and have considered getting a pit bull to guard the third. But now that it’s not the only one in the neighborhood, it seems safe.

Like I always say, there’s nothing worse than poor keening.

I’m in Minneapolis, Minnesota. So this is based on Minnesota statutes & City ordinances. And even more, on many years experience of doing lawn signs.

Depends on the campaign. If you want a presidential campaign’s lawn sign this time, you’ll probably have to buy it.

No, by FEC rules, that is not a ‘purchase’ but a donation to the campaign, and has to be listed on their campaign finance reports as a donation.

Unless you are purchasing it from one of those companies that are illegally reproducing the campaign lawn signs – that is just a business transaction, though with a rather corrupt company.

I saw that one, I’m pretty sure that’s illegal, falling under some kind of booby trapping laws.
I’d be willing to bet that the person who attempted to steal that sign could sue (and win) the homeowner if they choose. If for nothing else, for hospital charges to get checked out. It would probably end up being a wash, however, since the homeowner would probably get charged with setting a booby trap and the other person would probably be charged with trespassing and/or attempted theft. However, if he was seriously hurt, had a heart attack, ended up with burns on his hands, became dazed and wandered into traffic, got killed etc, he could (I’d guess) go after the homeowner and probably not have a problem getting some money (if nothing else, their insurance might settle with the victim).

It seems pretty messed up to electrify your sign, I get that they’re frustrated, but just set up the camera and call the police. He seemed to recognize the person.

You realize that those ordinances only apply in Minneapolis, right?

For example, in Illinois, there is no time limit on when campaign signs can be placed, before or after an election.

So your claim that “The campaigns are legally responsible for removing the signs within 10 days after the election, and can be fined if they fail to do so” is demonstrably false.


Whatever it is, it’s not a loan. I just went right up to the final screen for “buying” a yard sign from the Clinton campaign, and nowhere was I required to agree to the terms of any loan. It appeared to be the same as any other purchase (gift in return for a donation, whatever) from the campaign shop.

I doubt I’ve ever heard good keening.

Good on them to get a jump on it, I suppose.

**Kerning **, dammit.

Autocorrects to keening, why?

Even the banshees are worried about a Trump presidency.

Around here, you get the sign for a donation to the campaign. But legally it’s yours. If you want to deface it, that’s your first amendment right.

The campaign doesn’t care. Yard signs don’t change anyone’s mind, and they have your money to spend on more effective advertising.

Removing signs is looked down upon by all candidates; some have gotten in trouble for removing their opponent’s signs. Not legal trouble, but bad press. The last time the candidate claimed the sign was on public property, which didn’t allow the signs, but he came off as the idiot.

There are local ordinances saying that the signs must be taken down a certain number of days after election day.

Actually, though prevalence of signs has gone down precipitously in the past 10-15 years. You used to see them on every lawn, sometimes for several candidates. Now, they are unusual, and there’s only one sign per lawn. I think the parties realize the uselessness of them and would rather take the entire donation instead of having to create the sign.