It’s Sign Time!

Tim McCormick

We live in an amazing country and have so many freedoms that people all over the world wish they had! Yes, there are things to improve on and there are many things that frustrate us in day-to-day life, and one of the things that frustrates some people is political yard signs.

Part of what makes this such a wonderful nation is that we can affect our political systems. To do that, we hold elections and try to persuade others that one candidate would do a better job in a position. To do this, many people put up yard signs. And others wish they couldn’t put them up, because (and I have to admit this—even as a more than typically politically active citizen) yard signs don’t look that pretty, no matter what the campaign says! So just what are the rules on yard signs?

There are regulations on where and when they can be erected or placed—just not that many. It is illegal to put up a political sign “in the right of way of a highway.” In fact, a warning to that effect has to be printed on every political sign in Texas. It is usually very small and not visible unless you are holding the sign in your hands. Anything more than that is up to your city or homeowners association—within some very narrow limits.

Cities can limit political signage only on areas of public easement and right of ways, or if the sign is “illuminated,” “has an effective area greater than 36 feet” (it doesn’t say square feet, so maybe someone wants to test that in court?), is more than 8 feet high, or has any moving parts. Otherwise, they are not allowed to be restricted. This includes how early they can be put up.

HOAs can do a little more, but not nearly as much as some would like. State law (specifically Texas Election Code, Title 15, Chapter 259) explicitly states that political signs may not be restricted from the 90th day prior to the election or the 10 days following the election. An HOA may limit the maximum size of a sign to 6 feet by 4 feet, so you can go have a custom sign made (or make it yourself!) that is 6 feet by 4 feet and put it up in your yard starting Aug. 10. Realistically, signs are not usually made in that size. An HOA may also limit a homeowner to only one sign per candidate or issue, but they can’t stop you from putting up signs for people running for office outside of your district. You could put your favorite candidate for New York City mayor up if you really wanted to.

The long and short of it is that you, the HOA, and the city can’t stop your neighbor from putting up 75 signs in their yard starting Aug. 10 through 10 days after the November election if they are all for political candidates or relate to any political issue. Just be thankful your neighbors aren’t pushing the limits on size—think a full sheet of plywood or larger in a yard for one candidate in an area without an HOA. Maybe those normal yard signs aren’t so bad after all!