Johnson County campaign yard signs — what’s allowed and what’s not

Johnson County campaign signs

Campaign yard signs are starting to appear in parts of Johnson County as the community gears up for the primary election in August. Above, some signs for Overland Park mayoral candidates in the public right of way at College Boulevard and Metcalf Avenue.

It’s election season once again in Johnson County.

There are several local municipal races on the ballot for the Aug. 3 primary, and you may have noticed campaign signs starting to pop up in your area.

Kansas state law lays out some rules for where such signs can go and how long they can stay out.

Here’s what you need to know if you want to support a local candidate with a sign in or near your property:

 Timing

According to Kansas state law, cities cannot restrict the placement or number of political signs on private property or in public right-of-ways (like medians), 45 days before an election and two days following an election.

Outside that window, cities can restrict signage in public right-of-ways, though not signs on private property.

On private property

Cities and counties can regulate the size and setback distance for the placement of signs, even on private property, because they’re not supposed to impede drivers’ sight line, interfere with traffic or otherwise create a safety hazard. Some city regulations also focus on other issues, like clutter.

Click the links below to access the municipal code governing signage in some of northern Johnson County’s  larger cities.

In general, cities allow political signs on residential properties with few restrictions, even signs from previous elections.

In Overland Park, for instance, signs may be placed in city street medians and public right of ways, typically 11 feet back from the street curb.

However, any signs placed on private property must be done with the property owner’s permission if it’s not the property owner putting up the sign.

Whether an old campaign sign, say from last year’s presidential election, can still be in a yard now, would also be determined by each city’s particular regulations.

On public property

In general, cities’ don’t allow political signage on public property, such as at public parks or on civic buildings.

Signs also typically cannot be affixed to utility poles, traffic signs or street lights.

County election office

It’s also important to note: the Johnson County Election Office has little say in regulating political signage on private property, though a spokesperson for the election office says they typically field inquiries about signs.

“We get a lot of questions about campaign signs, but our office doesn’t have a role in regulating political signage beyond our voting locations,” said Nathan Carter with the Johnson County Election Office.

The rules are determined by state law and city codes.

Other political signs

Signs that display a property owner’s ideological beliefs or political leanings are protected by the First Amendment.

These include signs that display political viewpoints, such as signs professing support for Black Lives Matter or against abortion.

These signs can remain on private property whether it’s election season or not but still may be governed by city codes aimed at making sure signage does not create a public hazard or interfere with traffic.