Campaign sign wars

Labor Day traditionally marks the beginning of the final campaign push heading into Election Day. Signs sprout up seemingly overnight, flyers hit mailboxes, ads heat up – and so do the sign wars. That particular “war” occurs on at least two fronts: jockeying for sign placement in the most ideal locations and then fighting to keep campaign signs up after they are placed.

Signs on freeway overpasses, in the median, on off-ramps or on the shoulder are very common. They’re also illegal and can be dangerous. After this year’s primary, Senator Mike McKell (R-Spanish Fork) opened a bill file that would require campaigns to pay if their signs have to be removed from public property. “Putting big campaign signs on merge lanes on I-15 creates a dangerous obstruction. Somebody’s going to get hurt. It’s illegal and shows a lack of judgment,” he tweeted, with a picture of the large 4 ft by 8 ft offending sign.

The Salt Lake County GOP chair tweeted that the candidate had gotten permission from UDOT before placing it, prompting a response from Governor Spencer Cox refuting that assertion. UDOT doesn’t give permission for signs to be placed along roadways.

The other “front” in the sign wars is keeping your campaign signs up once placed. Removing, defacing and/or destroying candidates’ signs is so common that candidates usually order more signs than they know they’ll need to account for loss.

It’s not harmless, though. It costs money to have signs printed, costs time and gas money (at least) to replace signs that are damaged or destroyed, and, it’s against the law. It’s a class B misdemeanor if a person “knowingly removes, alters, defaces, or otherwise vandalizes a sign.” That doesn’t seem to stop people, though, whether the signs are legally placed in public areas or even in private yards.

Senate candidate Nate Blouin had his own sign stolen out of his yard on Friday and two tires on his car deflated – turns out the air wasn’t just let out – they were slashed.

How about this campaign season legally placed candidate signs just get left alone, ‘mkay?