As the political season heats up, so do the questions and concerns from constituents about political signs and political campaigning.
A frequent question comes from those who live in a community with a Homeowners Association. The questions usually include: “May I have a political sign in my yard? The HOA said it’s prohibited.” The answer can be found in your HOA bylaws, deeds, and restrictions, otherwise known as the covenants of the community. Homeowners should review the bylaws to see if they contain language prohibiting the placement of campaign signs. If so, then a sign may not be placed on the property for purposes that are not authorized. But, homeowners may be able to have a sign in their window or porch or may be able to display a flag that is acceptable within the restrictions. Many times, an HOA will get in “hot water” when it has allowed signs or flags for some purposes, only to deny others the same opportunity to express their positions.
The second question I often receive is: “Can people campaign or door knock in my neighborhood?” Electioneering is the door to door campaigning that a candidate does to gain your attention and interact with voters. Some communities prohibit “soliciting.” However, campaigning is not considered “soliciting” and it is protected under free speech. In 2004, the Supreme Court issued this opinion and it is not prohibited activity.
Keep in mind, I am not an attorney and I am not offering legal advice or opinion. I am sharing the answers I have received. I am recommending respecting your neighbors and the difference of opinions and preferences, as well assisting in the campaign process by getting to know the candidates in order to make informed decisions.
Ruth Briggs King