It’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.
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.