Thursday, October 11, 2012

Campaign Signs and Private Property

On private-property laws and campaign signs
With the campaign season upon us and the general elections fast approaching, candidates’ campaign signs are popping up everywhere – some of them overnight, like red-, white- and blue-colored mushrooms. There is one little bit of legal information about these blights to Delaware’s landscape that I am sure that the average Delawarean doesn't know about.
I am sure that most property owners know that although you own your property, the state of Delaware/DelDOT has a certain amount of right of way on your property; however, did you know that although that right of way was intended for state/DelDOT vehicles and equipment, under current Delaware state law, a political campaign is allowed to utilize the state’s right of way on your property to place campaign signs without seeking out your permission?
In my humble opinion, not only is this unethical, it's tantamount to slapping a bumper sticker on your neighbor’s car with out their permission and than using the defense that because your neighbor is still paying a car payment, the bank owns the car, so, you have the right to do it.
Aside from the lack of ethics in using this right of way intended for state/DelDOT vehicles and equipment to place campaign signs without the property owners’ permission, the property owner who encounters a political sign they didn't grant permission for has little to no legal recourse. As I was informed this even by a current state senator who is seeking re-election and whose name I will not mention in this letter, “30 days out from the election, you can be arrested for touching campaign signs.”
Now, let me ask you, dear reader, would you consider it OK to walk though a parking lot just slapping political bumper stickers on strangers’ cars?
If not, why would you think it OK to place a campaign sign on someone's property with out first getting permission from the owner, state’s right of way or not?
This is yet another way that our state's government is chipping away at the sovereignty of the property owner. If a law is being used for a purpose that is unethical and wrong, it’s time to change the law. I urge everyone who reads this letter to contact your representatives in state legislature and the candidates who are running for state legislature in your district and ask them to work on changing these laws. If a candidate wants to put a campaign sign on your property, they should ask your permission to do so, period!
Ricky Shehorn

Picked up from the letter to tyhe Editor, Delaware News.

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