Sign, Sign, Everywhere a Sign…
‘Tis the season when those political candidate signs spring up like mushrooms around neighborhoods and commercial districts throughout the land. Although signs and posters are considered "speech" under the 1st Amendment and therefore cannot be banned by the government, some permissible restrictions have been allowed. Check your city or county ordinances here to see if there are any restrictions on your posting your support for the Republican, Democrat, or Boston Tea Party before the upcoming elections.
Wilmington N.C., my hometown, allows non-illuminated political signs to be placed on private property with the owner’s permission, not to individually exceed twelve (12) square feet in sign area. They also have to be removed thirty days following the applicable election or referendum, and they don’t even make you get a permit!
However, if you live in a planned community with a Homeowner’s Association, they usually have the power to regulate all signage on their homeowners’ property. If you live in a planned community, you need to check for restrictions,the Declarations of the Association. You should have gotten a copy of these when you bought your house or get a set from the management company. They are also usually recorded at the Register of Deeds office. Since HOAs are not governmental entities, the 1st amendment doesn’t apply to them or their sign restrictions, and can ban them totally if they wish. However, for any restriction North Carolina does require that they specifically use the term"political sign" in the restriction. Just banning "signs" won’t do it. In addition, for Declarations filed after October 1, 2005, the restriction must be on the first page of Declarations and state in bold capital letters "THIS DOCUMENT REGULATES OR PROHIBITS THE DISPLAY OF POLITICAL SIGNS." Even when political signs are allowed, the HOA can prohibit their display earlier than 45 days before the election and later than seven days after. They can also limit the size if the local ordinances don’t say otherwise.
So if you have a burning desire to support McCain or Obama, or their sign colors happen to match your house decor, unless you have a real detail-oriented homeowners association, you should be able to show your allegiance if you follow the rules.