New York Yard Sign Regulations

US Flags in New York cityIt’s important for political campaigns in New York to understand lawn sign laws and regulations in the state. Why? First, the New York State Department of Transportation will remove signs that don’t adhere to their regulations. Second, campaigns also risk political attacks from their opponents if they do not follow yard signs laws.

Imagine that your opponent discovered that your campaign has violated these regulations, intentionally or not, and calls the local newspaper reporter telling him that you’re campaign is trying to get an unfair advantage in the race. Moreover, that this issue isn’t just about campaigning but also trust. Why should voters trust you to create laws when you can’t follow some of the simplest among them?

To avoid the loss of time and money if the Department were to remove illegally placed signs and the political fall out from violating these regulations, it just takes a moment to understand the Department of Transportation’s guidance for political campaigns.

New York Political Sign Laws

Unlike some other states, political signs are categorized as temporary signs like the real estate signs, festival signs, and school event signs that are along the side of the road and must adhere to all the same regulations when they are placed along state’s highways in the right-of-way. All temporary signs must be removed within three days of the event. In this case, you should remove political signs within three days of the election.

First, campaign yard signs are prohibited outright from any controlled-access highway or expressway-type road. Some of these roads include I-87, I-890, Route 7, and Route 85.

Otherwise, signs shouldn’t be a detriment to safe driving. This means that campaigns shouldn’t place campaign signs in a median or traffic island where they are a distraction. In addition, the New York Department of Transportation notes that it’s important that candidates, staff, and volunteers do not cause “sight-distance problems or interfere with safe traffic movement in any area including intersections.”

Finally, the Department requires that campaigns do not put signs in the right-of-way in a fashion that prevents the state from mowing or otherwise interfere with their activities. This is a particularly difficult regulation to adhere to since you won’t likely know when and where the Department of Transportation is going to mow. With that said, this is more a of a concern in a primary election than in a general election since the the Department is more likely to mow in the spring than in the fall.

An important note is that these regulations apply whether these signs were put out by the campaign itself or by any other source. If a rogue supporter puts your signs out on a controlled-access highway, the Department is going remove them.

Municipal Sign Laws

Just like New York state, local governments can and do have additional restrictions on the placement of yard signs and on the signs themselves. Some of the most common local signs ordinances include restrictions on the size and shape of campaign yard signs, the time frame that private property owners can display signs on their lawn and in the municipal authority’s right-of-way.

Conclusion

Simply put, knowing and following yard sign regulations in New York is a smart move for political campaigns. It might be a good idea to print out a list of regulations to give to volunteers that you have putting signs out onto state roads or to other supporters so that if they spot violations of the regulation they can remove the signs before the Department does.

  • Remove signs within three days of the election
  • Do not place campaign signs on the expressway or on controlled-access roads
  • Avoid putting signs on the median or on traffic islands where they will be a distraction to drivers
  • Political signs shouldn’t be placed along the right where they will interfere with a driver’s ability to see
  • Likewise, signs impacting safe driving at intersections aren’t acceptable
  • Signs that interfere with the operations of the Department of Transportation, such as mowing, will be removed

The same cautions that apply to your campaign are also opportunities. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander, so knowing these regulations will help you keep your opponent accountable to state yard sign laws.

When your opponent violates campaign sign laws, let the voters know. Voters have a right to know when a candidate isn’t playing by the rules.

If you got what you were looking for some this post, would you please add a link to this page on your site or share it on social media, so that you can keep your fellow candidates and politicos on the right side of California’s campaign sign regulations as well?

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.

26 thoughts on “New York Yard Sign Regulations

  1. Can someone else, an ordinary citizen who does not own the corner property that your sign is on remove your sign because he is in opposition to what you are running on.

  2. Can someone put a sign on my property with out my permission? They put it in the corner of my property, just off the street but across the street from the polling place.
    Thanks

    1. It depends where. If it’s on your yard, you should be fine now. On the local right of way, it depends upon the locality.

  3. I was told that I can’t place an election sign on my friends lawn whom is already an elected official in Genesee County New York. I was told that would be favoritism through the already elected official and unfair to my opponent. True or not ?? Thank you for your time.

    1. Yes, that’s favoritism but that’s what you want! There’s no ethical reason why you couldn’t put a sign in the other elected officials yard, so long as they are amenable to it with the exception of an elected judge, but that has nothing to do with ‘fairness’ to your opponent. If this is coming from the elected official, my guess is he doesn’t want to stick his neck out. If not, talk to him anyway. Your goal is to get the support needed to win the election not to make an even playing field for your opponent.

  4. I was told by my town that a sign reading “Trump, make America great again” is not a campaign sign but but rather a personal opinion sign, so it does not need to come down. Same with a “Hillary for Prison” sign. Is this correct? They are both obviously campaign signs.

    1. Well, that’s a really silly response from your town, but the conclusion is still correct. 99.99% of the time if it’s on their personal property, they can keep the sign up. But whether it is in on their personal property or public property, if the ordinance or state regulation says that political signs come down so many days after the election, it should be removed.

  5. If I put the sign on my own private property and leave it there for as long as I want after an election is that against the law too in NY?

    1. Who would limit it is really your local government more than anything, so it’s worth a ring to your municipal government to see if they have a sign ordnance that would limit your ability to put a political sign out on your private property in any way.

  6. I live on a on a piece of property that doesn’t have access to the state hwy. I’m surrounded by my neighbor. I have a mailbox by the road, can he deny me putting up a political sign?

    1. You can put a yard sign on your property. Chances are the mailbox is on the right of your locality or the state, which NY allows in most cases and you would have to check with your local government if it’s a local road. To be on the safe side, it’s worth double checking with NYDOT or local transportation authorities whether your mailbox is on the right of way.

  7. Can an opponent in a contested election remove properly placed campaign signs ? Are there any penalties for the unauthorized removal of properly placed campaign signs?

  8. I questioned a political party in Monroe County. They said each municipality “may’ have their own rules. Note, that I did include this law when corresponding with them. Which is true?

    1. We’re both right! These are the state rules. Municipalities can and do have their own regulations, but those regulations must not run afoul of NY state’s. For example, the state says you can’t post signs on a state expressway, Rochester can’t have a regulation saying that that is permissible. Since there are state and local roads, municipalities would determine what is permissible on their right of ways. Other common restrictions in municipal codes include the size of the sign, how long the sign can be out before or after an election, and where the sign can be posted. Many smaller municipalities won’t have a sign ordinance but it’s very common for any local government that has a downtown.

      Rochester’s code is here: http://ecode360.com/index/RO0104/S. You’ll need to do a little digging here as sign ordinances aren’t consolidated. As an example, you can’t put a sign on a tree or affix them to some other places http://ecode360.com/8674496#8674496. Just be careful that you’re looking at information on temporary signs not permanent signs.

  9. Can my condo building in NYC legally prevent me from having a political sign on my terrace? is this also subject to the 3 day rule?

    1. Unfortunately, yes, condo and homeowners associations can legally prevent you from having a political sign. I haven’t read the regulation itself, so I’m not 100% sure on the 3 day rule. It could be different if you’re on the 15th floor of the condo building vs. the 1st, for example, because usually those rules have to do with traffic safety, litter, and aesthetics in that order.

  10. How does this law relate to primary elections? For instance, does a Bernie sign need to be removed within three days of the primary or three days of the Nov election?

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