Its that time of year in NH. We’re past the Summer heat but the leaves haven’t started to change yet. There is plenty of color along the roads though. Around mid-August we start to see bright plastic bags on metal frames popping up with the names of the primary candidates for Governor and Congress. After Labor Day the names of local candidates for NH House, Senate and County offices start to appear.
State law states, “No political advertising shall be placed on or affixed to any public property including highway rights-of-way or private property without the owner’s consent. All political advertising shall be removed by the candidate no later than the second Friday following the election unless the election is a primary and the advertising concerns a candidate who is a winner in the primary. Signs shall not be placed on or affixed to utility poles or highway signs. Political advertising may be placed within state-owned rights-of-way as long as the advertising does not obstruct the safe flow of traffic and the advertising is placed with the consent of the owner of the land over which the right-of-way passes. No person shall remove, deface, or knowingly destroy any political advertising which is placed on or affixed to public property or any private property except for removal by the owner of the property, persons authorized by the owner of the property, or a law enforcement officer removing improper advertising. Political advertising placed on or affixed to any public property may be removed by state, city, or town maintenance or law enforcement personnel. Political advertising removed prior to election day by state, city, or town maintenance or law enforcement personnel shall be kept until one week after the election at a place designated by the state, city, or town so that the candidate may retrieve the items.” – 664:17 Placement and Removal of Political Advertising. –
So while it is legal for candidates and their operatives to place signs on traffic islands and at intersections with no clear land owner, I personally find it to be in poor form, especially for NH House candidates. Our citizen legislature is supposed to be the most representative legislature in the country, if not the world, and each member should represent approximately 3200 of their neighbors. We should be able to find ample friends and family in our communities who are willing to stand up and support us with lawn signs and you will never see my name littering a traffic island or random stretch of road as a candidate for the NH House.
I will concede that for county, congressional and state wide races, as well as Presidential, signs in seemingly random places do play a role. A big part of earning votes is establishing name recognition and as much as we might not like it, seeing a candidates name repeatedly helps establish that name recognition. I look at it like training to be an elite marathoner. First you need the endurance, name recognition, just to finish the race. That where the signs at intersections come in. But if you want win you have to add speed work to your training to increase your pace. That’s where signs in actual peoples front yards come in. The more signs you see in front of actual houses and not at traffic lights the better the chances that that candidate will win.
So, for the next 6 weeks while you drive around Mt Washington Valley think about how many Trump and Ayotte signs you see in front of actual homes and how many you see in traffic islands and wooded stretches of road. I have no doubt you’ll see some Hillary and Hassan signs on those same stretches of our roads but I can assure you you’ll see more of them in front of homes and businesses. Those were placed there by homeowners and local voters, not hired operatives who are here for 8 weeks and then will move on. Those are the signs that count.