While not without controversy, Arizona made navigating the state’s campaign sign regulations much easier in 2011 when they limited localities’ ability to prohibit campaigns for distributing signs sixty days before the primary election and ending fifteen days after the general election aside from candidate who lose in the primary. Those candidates must remove their signs within fifteen days following the primary election.
When Arizona’s Sign Regulation Applies to Local Governments
Political campaigns must meet five requirements regardless of whether it is within the time frame that Arizona allows yard signs throughout the state. Here they are straight from the state’s code:
- The sign is placed in a public right-of-way that is owned or controlled by that jurisdiction.
- The sign supports or opposes a candidate for public office or it supports or opposes a ballot measure.
- The sign is not placed in a location that is hazardous to public safety, obstructs clear vision in the area or interferes with the requirements of the Americans with disabilities act (42 United States Code sections 12101 through 12213 and 47 United States Code sections 225 and 611).
- The sign has a maximum area of sixteen square feet, if the sign is located in an area zoned for residential use, or a maximum area of thirty-two square feet if the sign is located in any other area.
- The sign contains the name and telephone number or website address of the candidate or campaign committee contact person.
If one of your campaign signs is found in violation of one or more of these five requirements, the jurisdiction must notify the campaign and give the candidate twenty four hours to bring the sign back into compliance with Arizona’s regulations before removing the sign. If the jurisdiction deems that it is an emergency situation, such as causing a hazard for traffic or pedestrians, the proper authorities may remove the sign immediately, but they also must notify the campaign committee within seventy two hours of relocating the sign.
Home Owners Associations and Yard Signs
Arizona also has strong laws protecting citizens’ right to free speech who belong to home owners’ associations. In 2004, Arizona ensured that members of HOAs could fly flags, such as the state and U.S. flag, regardless of any restrictions in their covenant with their HOA so long as they met the requirements laid out in the federal flag code.
The Arizona state legislature acted again and now protects HOA residents from a host of political campaign activities including posting signs for political candidates on their private property.
Side note, Gawker has a telling article with a laundry list of HOA horror stories. Across the country, many home owners associations have prevented residents from flying U.S. flags, military flags, and other forms of political speech. At Campaign Trail Yard Signs, we support regulations that protect public safety and understand that there are aesthetic concerns to consider in addition to an individual’s interest in displaying a candidate sign, but we’ve heard countless stories of austere HOA policies. If your HOA in Arizona tells you to remove your campaign sign, make sure that you are complying the state regulation above, and tell them to go pound sand!
Political Consequences of Violating Sign Regulations
While there are no financial penalties for violating the state’s sign regulations, there are political ones. If you put a sign out too early, post a sign bigger than the law allows, or keep a sign out too long, for example, you’re inviting your political opponent or the local news media to take your campaign to task for failing to follow the law.
Especially since Arizona’s laws are easy to understand and follow, educating volunteers and staying compliant as a campaign is simple. If you stray from these simple rules, it’s just as easy for your political opponents to find out and call you on the carpet.