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Louisville is the Wild West when it comes to campaign signs

A Greenberg for mayor sign in the front yard of a vacant, boarded-up home ahead of the 2022 primary election. There are no local restrictions on placing campaign signs on private property without permission.
Kelly Wilkinson
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A Greenberg for mayor sign in the front yard of a vacant, boarded-up home ahead of the 2022 primary election. There are no local restrictions on placing campaign signs on private property without permission.

In Louisville, political signs aren’t just in the yards of residents showing support for their candidates of choice. They’re everywhere —  from street intersections to vacant lots.

Louisville Metro goes by state law relating to campaign signage. Erran Huber, a spokesperson for the Jefferson County Clerk’s office, said Kentucky only has electioneering restrictions when it comes to polling places during active voting periods. 

“Signs need to be 100 feet or more, away from a polling place entrance,” Huber said. “None of the statutes apply to private property, regardless of how far something is from a polling location.”

State law electioneering limits only apply on Election Day, or during early voting periods. In-person absentee voting is happening now and no-excuse early voting will take place November 3-5 this year. 

While there are enforcement measures in place to handle polling place violations, Huber said someone has to complain for the office to take action.

“If somebody raises an issue with our office, we are able to partner with the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office for enforcement if need be.”

Huber says the County Clerk receives few complaints over signs being too close to the entrances of polling locations.

There aren’t any laws, state or Louisville Metro-specific, that require campaign officials or volunteers to ask property owners permission before posting election materials on private property. In contrast, nearby Oldham County and the entire state of Indiana require permission.

Smaller independent cities within Jefferson County can impose local electioneering ordinances. Some have restrictions relating to the length of time signs can be posted; Louisville doesn’t. However, the city has stipulations against signs that obstruct the right of way. But, while Public Works is tasked with removing illegally posted election materials, the department relies on resident complaints to know where they are. 

 

Yasmine Jumaa is LPM’s race and equity reporter. Email Yasmine at yjumaa@lpm.org.