Hi, my name is Stephen Rudman, as the political director for Well Arkoosh for Congress. When it was time for us to order yard signs, I only had to make one phone call and that was my friend Ben Donahower. And it’s not just that we’ve been friends for so many years, I`ve known him ever since he ran for Rep. It’s just that when it came to price point, to having a good union labor, getting it quickly and easily without much hassle, I knew I could go to Ben. And I wasn`t the only campaign, I cast around just you know see, make sure everything is all right and everyone just said- Ben’s the best. Steve you know this, don`t dodge yourself, just give Ben a call. And it`s just fantastic, it was easy to give him a call on the phone and I wish I could say that I had a special number since I`ve known him for so long, but it`s the same number that he gives to everyone, so everyone gets the same kind of service. It’s really very nice. So, he walked me through the process and I told him- Okay, this is congressional race. It wasn`t just that he said- Okay, this is the price- go. It was- Okay, well let’s talk about your field plan, let’s talk about how best to use it. And we went through and he said- Okay, well let`s talk about how we can incorporate yard signs into your field plan. And he was fantastic with that, my field staff, everyone who got to meet him and talk with him loved him. He did a good amount of design work on our signs, the signs looked fantastic, they looked great on a computer screen and when we saw them on the poly bags, they looked fantastic there as well. So Ben Donahower, he has the political savvy, he has the union workers and he’s just a good person. So speaking for Ben Donahower, I am Stephen Rudman and I approve this message.
Compared to other states, Rhode Island has somewhat stricter rules and regulations on when, where and under what circumstances you may place your campaign sign. For instance, you may not place a sign at least 25 feet from the nearest edge of right-of-way. Campaign signs aren’t allowed at historical and religious places. If you want to post your sign on a private property, be sure to get the property owner’s consent first.
It’s important to follow RIDOT and Department of State campaign yard signs regulations to avoid the time and cost it takes to deal with violations. Running roughshod over sign laws may also generate negative press and attacks from your political opponents.
Rhode Island Yard Sign Regulations
Rhode Island Outdoor Advertising Act prohibits placing campaign signs that are visible from interstate highways, which means that signs are not allowed at any places where they obstruct or physically interfere with the drivers’ view. For this same reason, your campaign signs should not resemble official traffic signs or signals because they might cause traffic hazards. Also for safety reasons you are not allowed to place your sign upon a tree or any other natural feature that is structurally unsafe.
In Rhode Island there are zones where you can put your sign. Campaign signs must be located in a commercial or industrial area in addition to being 25 feet away from the nearest right-of-way.
Rhode Island is a naturally beautiful state. To maintain its aesthetic appearance, it is forbidden to place campaign signs at places that are considered to be natural or manmade scenic areas. Places of historical significance designated scenic roadways and bicycle paths are strictly forbidden for political signs. If you put your sign in any of these areas, it will be removed by Rhode Island Department of Transportation.
Campaign Sign Size
You won’t have any trouble with an average sized sign, but if you are considering large billboards, the maximum area for campaigns signs that are located 150 feet or more from the nearest edge of the right-of-way is 1200 square feet. The maximum allowed length of the sign is 60 feet and maximum height is 25 feet. Don’t forget that these dimensions include border, trim, cutouts and other extensions.
Lawfully placed signs require permits. If you want to obtain a permit, you need to provide a proof of legal control of the real property and sign. The Rhode Island Department of Transportation will help you obtain any necessary permits.
Displacing, removing or destroying campaign signs is not allowed. The penalty for this is up to 10 days in jail and a fine of $100 to $500, plus additional expenses and costs.
Local Yard Sign Regulations
Municipal rules on posting campaign signs may differ when it comes to size, shape and location of the sign. I suggest checking local ordinances before you decide to put up a sign. These local ordinances may include some restrictions on how long you may keep a sign or if you need a permit. For example, in the town of Scituate, a zoning inspector must certify any sign before you place it or just decide to change its size, or even move it to another place.
It may seem like there are many rules to be followed before you can place your sign, but it is definitely better to check something twice than to face the consequences afterwards. These consequences include having your sign thrown away and the risk of your opponent taking the advantage of such situation among others. So, to avoid this, do not post your signs at least 25 feet from the nearest edge of right-of-way. Don’t post it on trees or rocks or anywhere where it can fall down a cause a hazard. Speaking of hazards, you are not allowed to place your sign on places where it obstructs the view of the drivers. This can be very serious and dangerous. If you make such mistake, Rhode Island Department of Transportation will have to remove your sign and you will be remembered as someone who doesn’t care about the safety of your voters.
Disclaimer: I’m not an attorney nor do I play one on TV. This is not legal advice or opinion. It’s simply a collection of information that I have been able to gather from online and offline sources and have applied to political campaigns.
GOTV to Win welcomes this guest post.
Leaflet distribution for election campaigns
Leaflets can be an extremely powerful and targeted way of advertising a product, service or even a person to their readers. The trick is to give the right information and to do your research before you distribute them.
There are many different forms of advertising, and they tend to be effective in different ways. A leaflet campaign can be an excellent way to target particular demographic groups, including local areas, with brief and direct information. This property makes leaflets an ideal way to raise awareness for a political candidate within a particular neighbourhood. However, there are a few points you should bear in mind before starting a leaflet campaign in order to make it as successful as possible.
Writing effective leaflets
Leaflets are a brilliant way to reach a large number of people in a given area (such as a zip code) with a short and to-the-point message. This makes them the perfect medium to kick-start an election campaign. People generally don’t want to wade through a long manifesto; they want an at-a-glance guide to why they should vote one way rather than another. The apparent constraints of a leaflet are actually a strong advantage for this purpose; the limited space means that you are forced to condense your message into a short, pithy summary that is high on impact, low on extraneous text. This can be a challenge, since the temptation can be to fill both sides of the paper with as much as you can cram in. This is a mistake; like a campaign trail sign, the purpose of a leaflet is not to tell prospective voters everything they might want to know about a candidate. There are other places they can go for that, such a website which can offer all the information anyone could possibly want.
Instead, they are a starting point, a call to action. Your leaflet is a bit like a movie trailer, inviting someone to find out more. As long as you include the details to allow them to do that, it’s best to be quite spare with your text too much can put people off, sending your carefully-prepared leaflet straight to the trash. Instead, focus on one, or, at most, a handful of simple statements that might attract potential voters. Your leaflet needs to resonate with its readers. There’s no point telling them all about the candidate if it doesn’t have any relevance to them. Your leaflet needs to address issues that really matter to people.
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This requirement for your leaflet to speak to genuine needs is important, because leaflets are also an easy way of targeting specific neighbourhoods and obviously, different areas will have different concerns. Because leaflets are so cheap and easy to produce, thanks to the advent of digital printing, you are freed from printing large quantities of a single flyer and hoping the one-size-fits-all approach will work. Instead, with a little research, you can tailor your message to the unique needs of each area you distribute them to.
This is an enormous strength, because the more targeted the message the more likely people are to respond positively to it. You are able to achieve this with a leaflet campaign in a way that is not possible with more general (and expensive) means of advertising such as TV and radio commercials. These have the advantage of going out to thousands or even millions of people. However, unlike the leaflet, the message is the same for everyone, meaning that much of your audience might be uninterested.
A successful campaign will typically include a range of advertising strategies. Leaflets are an outstanding way to reach a specific area with a tailored, relevant message. This can be achieved extremely cost-effectively. This advantage makes leaflets the ideal complement to other methods of advertising which tend to have a wider reach but a lower response rate.
My opponent has made his yard signs so they look almost exactly like mine. Same colors, same style of type. Only the name is different. Should I make an issue out of this?
This could be a benefit for you. Chances are all of these signs are going to be lost in the shuffle now. If your opponent spent more on them that you did, the net benefit is your’s.
If you’re really concerned about this, you can make or order something of a different color to stick onto the sign to differentiate it from your opponent: “vote” or “another family for” or “sportsmen for” whatever.
Corneo is right, chances are this issue won’t have too much traction in the media or otherwise. You can throw it in there if there are issues with stealing signs etc. down the road but as a stand alone, voters and the media won’t care.
As a field staffer, I know that one of the biggest reasons that yard signs have their detractors is because there isn’t ordinarily one person who is in charge of campaign yard signs. In fact, most campaigns leave it up to their field staff to handle campaign signs.
I recommend that the campaign identify a volunteer as the director of yard sign distribution. This way, field staff can concentrate on canvasses and phone banks and at the same time, people will be able to get the political lawn signs that they have requested faster.
Interestingly, you will find that identifying someone as the point person for yard signs won’t be too difficult! While it might take some sweet talking to convince someone to canvass chances are there is at least one person in your campaign organization that is excited about yard signs and will be eager to take on the role.
Seth Godin recently posted about two different signs. One was from MassDOT and the other from a farmer. Each of these signs tell a story about the organization that created the sign.
What story does your sign tell?
Are you honest?
Think about the story that your campaign yard sign tells to voters.
Even in a political campaign where time is of the essence, it’s important to understand how much commitment a volunteer can put forth and move them methodically along until they are the best volunteer they can be.
One of the first steps in this process is turning a private supporter into a public one. An easy way to do this is to ask if they want campaign yard signs.
Yard Sign Phone Script
Interviewer: Hi, this is xxx. I’m a volunteer for xxx. Is xxx home?
Interviewer: Hi, this is xxx. I’m a volunteer for xxx. How are you?
Interviewer: Thanks for signing up online as a supporter. / I heard from a campaign volunteer who knocked on your door, that you are supporting xxx. Thanks!
Interviewer: I’m calling because we recently got an order of yard signs and thought that you would like one! Would you show your support for xxx by putting a sign in your yard?
Interviewer (if no): Okay. Thanks again for your support for xxx and we’ll see you at the polls on xxx.
Interviewer (if yes): That’s great! Would you be willing to come pick it up at xxx so that volunteers can use their time to contact undecided voters or do you need someone to drop the sign off at your home?
Don’t Stop There
It’s critical that this isn’t your last contact with this supporter. Contact supporters who have agreed to take a yard sign again asking if they would help with a maling or other campaign volunteer opportunity.
For campaign signs to be effective, a voter has to see them. One of the simplest ways to get the attention of a voter is to design a sign that is unique and out of the ordinary, even an ugly campaign sign.
I recently saw a yard sign that looked great. It was orange and gray. Neither color was too bold and the colors choice flowed with the font type, logo, and text on the sign. If you saw the image on a computer screen or a direct mail piece, you could see that the campaign clearly had spent time, money, and effort to create a professional yet modern design.
The problem, however, was that they were difficult to read. Gray might have looked really nice and prevented the sign from looking like a Halloween decoration but it also made it also made it much more difficult for voters to read if it drew their attention at all in the first place.
You might not want to throw a professional looking design out the door but it’s important that your designer understand the purpose of a yard sign, that the font should be big and bold, that the less text the better, and the bolder the colors and the more that they contrast with each other and the scenery the better.
In the case of the sign I just mentioned, making the orange and the back much darker into a deep orange and a dark black and removing some but not all of the white space would have made a big difference in the sign.
Why do nations create flags? Why do their peoples fly them?
Flags have a deeper meaning. In America, our stars represent the fifty states and the stripes the thirteen original colonies. The colors too have meaning. Likewise, other nations similarl have flags that have certain meaning to them.
Patriots fly the American flag off of their home, on their car, bringing them to parades and other events, and pledge to the flag in school and at meeting around the United States every day. In the case of people who display the flag, they are sharing with their neighbors that they have pride in the country and believe in its principles.
People fly other flags as well. You might see someone flying a state flag, flags that indicate support for the military, flags that read “don’t tread on me,” and others that I see every day and you probably do too.
While your campaign lawn sign doesn’t have the deeper meaning that a flag does. While your communicating a simpler message and primarily by text as opposed to graphics, the supporters who choose to put a sign in their yard, do so for a similar reason that someone might fly a flag.
These voters want to have a phsyical display of support for the candidate and to demonstrate to their community that they hold certain political values that the candidate holds as well.
Having something tangible and something you can share with your friends and neighbors is a powerful. Campaign signs won’t win elections but the people who post signs in their yard will. They will vote, contribute, and volunteer for your political campaign if they are properly motivated.