It is not uncommon to get a glut of letters to the editor during an election year. We have been getting piles of them this year concerning everything politics, and there have been more than a few concerning the theft of political yard signs.

The letters come from individuals who support both political parties, and it seems that whenever someone does not support their neighbor’s candidate, that sign has been stolen out of their yard. 

Political sign theft is nothing new. In recent years even those involved in elections as candidates have been caught taking signs of their opponents from property in different areas of the state. That’s embarrassing behavior if you ask me.

In Iosco County, whether you are a Trump supporter or a Biden supporter – and you have a political sign in your yard – chances are that someone has eyeballed it and did not want it there.

I have personally never favored political signs for any race and have never had one in my yard. I think they make the community look tacky and I would consider them to be litter and am glad (as I’ve heard from many this year) when the signs seemingly disappear at night after the election. 

There is even debate on whether political signs are even valuable for a candidate’s election in the first place. In my research on the subject on whether they work for a candidate, and this is coming again from both Democrats and Republicans, the consensus is that some political signs will help in very localized elections to a small percentage of people to go out and vote. But the positive gain is negligible.

Political campaign managers have described them as “a burden” not only for getting them papered across a large swath of the land, but also cleaning them up after the election, dealing with theft and vandalism, and complaints from the public who consider them an eyesore. The upshot of what I’ve read is the net gain in votes does not make a difference in most cases (and I’m sure, like with everything on planet earth, there are exceptions to the rule) versus the overall effort of getting the signs out. But the public likes to display them and candidates like to see the support in the community.

According to an article published in The Atlantic on the topic, two researches from the University of Colorado and Susquehanna University, have found in their research that the primary reason for having political signs is “personal expression.” 

“The primary reason is personal expression: to communicate either solidarity or defiance to neighbors (depending on the other signs in the neighborhood)....they’re less persuasive and more demonstrative,” as stated in the article.

The upshot of the story is that you could look at a political sign as basically a akin to having a Detroit Tigers, or God forbid, a Detroit Lions flag or sign in your yard showing support for the team. You may think your neighbor is nuts for supporting the Lions, but they may love that football team enough to put up a blue and silver flag.

With that logic, political signs are basically pep rally signs for a candidate and a way to show proud support. I’m not here to tell you how to vote, but if you are making your voting choices on seeing a candidate’s sign in a yard, and not researching the candidates ahead of the election, you’ve made a big mistake.

But regardless of how you intend to vote this year, or show support for a candidate , you have every right to display your support for any candidate you choose to support with yard signs and not have to worry about some jerk taking it out of your yard because they do not like the person you chose to vote for.

Not only is it just in extremely poor taste, and very trashy to steal something from someone’s yard, their personal property in fact, it is also illegal to do so. That’s right, according to state law, stealing or defacing political signs in the state is a misdemeanor that can carry a maximum penalty of a $500 fine or imprisonment of up to 90 days.

It’s also hampering someone’s right to political expression, regardless of it’s effectiveness, a person has a right to their opinion.

So before you go out and snatch your neighbor’s sign supporting a political campaign, think about the fact that the stunt could lead to a hefty fine and jail time. Also think that by going on someone else’s property and taking their personal property, you are being highly disrespectful. If you don’t support a candidate, show your support for the candidate of your choosing instead of hampering someone’s freedom of expression.

People mostly have their minds made up by now, and not seeing a sign for a candidate in a yard is not going to change their vote. That being said, you’ll never see sign supporting a political candidate in my yard, or a sign supporting the Lions. But maybe the Chicago Bears....I’ll have to think about that one.