8:10 AM EDT, April 18, 2014
If it seems like campaign signs are going up early this year, you're right. It coincides with an early election season, with the primary being in June instead of September.
With a plethora of candidates running in local elections, chances are that political signs are headed for your neighbors' lawns and, without question, the roadside of your local shopping centers.
In fact, political signs started springing up in various locations over the past few weeks and, according to Howard County code, possibly sooner than they should have been.
County code permits signs 60 days before the election. This year, with the primary election June 24 and early voting starting June 12, the date signs were allowed to be posted was last weekend.
But sign enforcement is complicated.
There doesn't seem to be any question, legal or otherwise, about candidate signs being posted in the public right-of-way. County and state crews should take down signs that are along the roadway, on telephone poles or located on some other government property.
But for those signs on your neighbor's yard or along Route 40's business corridor, the First Amendment protects this kind of free speech. And, as much as these signs might not be pleasing to the eye, there's not a lot that can be done. Nor should there be.
So, brace yourselves for the signs. And, if you don't like them, remind yourself that they will be gone by Thanksgiving.