New Mexico has strict rules about where, when and for how long you may place your campaign signs during a political campaign. The New Mexico Department of Transportation is concerned about distracting drivers and impeding NMDOT traffic devices and signals. To make a long story short about where you can post signs, New Mexico prohibits posting signs along the state’s right of way.
In addition to the state’s rules, counties and other local governments may have their own restrictions and permitting processes.
Don’t be fooled. These regulations may seem trivial, but the political implications can be a factor in your race. It’s one thing to have a few signs removed and to need to recover them. It’s another issue when your political opponent or a member of the media notices these violations. You don’t have to take my word for it. Search online for yard sign theft or other yard signs violations, and you’ll see a never ending list of articles if you’re in the heat of campaign season.
New Mexico Yard Sign Regulations
In New Mexico, no classes of signs are allowed outdoor, except for signs, displays and devices located within 660 feet of the nearest edge of the right of way, which are zoned as industrial or commercial under authority of law. Suffice it to say, that’s not you! You can’t post signs in the state’s right of way.
You already know how strict New Mexico is about sign placement. The following quote from Outdoor Advertising Requirements in New Mexico proves the point:
“It is prohibited to place signs which physically intrude upon the right of way or by being of such a distracting nature so it diverts driver’s attention from the roadway. Also, signs that attempt or appear to attempt to direct the movement of traffic or imitate any official signs, signals or device are prohibited. Your campaign sign may not contain commands such as: “stop, slow, turn left or right, straight ahead.”
If your campaign does post campaign signs in the state’s right of way, they will be removed by NMDOT staff and stored at district headquarter or at local patrol yards. New Mexico has six district headquarters where campaigns can pick up the signs during normal business hours. Contact information for those offices is available here.
Finally, no campaign sign or other outdoor advertising device whatsoever is allowed to place signs in the state without a permit from the State Maintenance Bureau of the Department for placement along state roads. To apply for a permit for political signs, you’ll need to fill out the application form and make a nonrefundable $100 fee. Sign permits will be valid from the date of their issuance until the following January 1. Every permit must be renewed each year and accompanied by a $25 renewal fee. Permanent metal tags will be issued with fees collected annually in advance.
Local Yard Sign Regulations
Generally, you are now more familiar with regulations in New Mexico regarding placing campaign signs. However, you should consult local town or county regulations because some counties regulate the duration placement of election signs, and elements of the sign itself including its size.
The Department of Transportation in New Mexico will not issue permits for placing new signs in areas where counties and municipal zoning ordinances are in effect and which require a permit to be issued for such signs by the county or municipal authority.
County permits are often free and aren’t terribly difficult to obtain. Contact your county for a permit application. Some of them, like Los Alamos county, have the application available online. Hee is an eample for Los Alomos.
As you can see, it is not hard to follow the rules in New Mexico, you will probably spend the most time reading them since they are very detailed. It is clear as it can be; if you follow the regulations, your signs will stay. But if you don’t, you will lose your sign, your permit and your opponent will most probably use that as a chance to win a few arguments and maybe the election.