Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Campaign Sign Restrictions?

The Blue Lake Casino poll (on right side of page) up on the KIEM TV web site asks whether there should be restrictions on the time campaign signs can be displayed. As I write this 90% of those voting chose Yes. I actually voted Yes, too, but with reservations, and I don't know that I'd want a rule like that actually enforced.

Campaign signs, as annoying as I find them to be sometimes, seem to me to be a fundamental form of free speech. I don't like the idea of any restrictions on them, so long as they're not obstructing traffic views or anything along that line. I don't like the idea of an enforceable ordinance where people could be sanctioned in some way for making their views known.

However, I don't mind a community consensus as to how long we feel like subjecting ourselves to campaign signs- call it an agreement on politeness, if you will. After all, those signs are almost akin to yelling at someone as they're passing by, "VOTE FOR ************!". At least that's the way they strike me. 

Community consensus- perhaps even embodied in a city ordinance- I have no problem with. Just don't enforce it.

I believe in Eureka the consensus is that signs can be placed out 45 days(?) prior to election. Seems fair enough to me, although I'd prefer it more like a month prior. No biggie, especially since the signs can't all be put out overnight so they need some extra time.

I noticed a Virgina Bass sign across the street beginning a week or two ago. Too early for me. But I plan on having one in my yard, too. Just not yet. I e-mailed the Bass campaign yesterday and they asked if I'd mind a sign in my yard. I told them to bring one by but I wouldn't put it out in my yard until late April or early May- around a month before the election. I'm funny like that.

Oh, and the signs come down as soon as the polls close. I make a point out of that, as well. Every election I go out at 7 or 8pm and take down my signs, and those across the street. I hope you'll all do the same.
Whether campaign signs actually accomplish something, I don't know. I'm sure they serve some purpose or there wouldn't be so much money spent on them. I do find it interesting seeing who is supporting who.

I do recall years ago when Jeff Smith ran for a seat on the Eureka City Council. I didn't make a formal count of his signs, but it seemed to me he easily had the most yard signs out. He came in third in a three way race.


At 11:01 AM, Blogger Rose said...

Just remember, a month before the election should be expanded to a month before absentees are sent out - for many people, who vote the day they get their ballot, the election is over a month before the June 3rd date.

At 11:08 AM, Blogger Fred Mangels said...

Hadn't thought of that, and I'm an absentee voter. That's a valid point, but I don't know we should make exceptions for absentee voters. They've likely already decided, assuming they vote right away.

Hey, I already get my ballot mailed to me. I don't expect everyone to place their signs out early in order to influence me.

At 12:07 PM, Anonymous MOLA:42 said...

I agree with getting the signs down once the election is over... along with all the garage sale signs for events that happened months before.

Perhaps a good compromise is as soon as the Absentee Ballots are out you can put up your sign.

But I don't know how effective such signs would be. If the voter already has made voting decisions as soon as the ballot has arrived, just how likely will it be a sign of all things will change their minds?

At 1:17 PM, Blogger Fred Mangels said...

" I don't know how effective such signs would be. If the voter already has made voting decisions as soon as the ballot has arrived, just how likely will it be a sign of all things will change their minds?

That's the thing. I would think most absentee voters vote independent of mainstream campaigning. In other words, they're not going to wait until the last minute to make their decision. They might well have made up their mind by the time they get their ballot in the mail, at least on most issues and races.

I know I'm generally that way, although now I hold off for a while before sending mine in. Years ago I sent my ballot in early. I didn't vote in one Eureka City Council race as I didn't see any compelling reason to. I ended up changing my mind after watching a city council candidate forum and wished I hadn't already sent by ballot in.

At 4:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

MOLA:42 made a reasonable comment. Not the usual tone like MOLA 's comments on LOCO or Tuluwat.

Fred, MOLA must like you! Convert MOLA Fred, convert. Maybe your reasonable tone Fred will rub off on MOLA.


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