Political Signs

How long are we allowed to keep our Beto O'Rourke signs in our yard?

How long are we allowed to keep our Beto O'Rourke signs in our yard?

Beto O'Rourke sign
Maybe decorate it with a few Christmas lights. Photo by Marc Lee

The results are in. What's done is done. In the 2018 midterm elections, Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Beto O'Rourke was not able to unseat the incumbent, Ted Cruz. Beto garnered 4,015,082 votes, or 48.3 percent, to Cruz's 4,228,832 votes, or 50.9 percent.

O'Rourke lost by a mere 213,750 votes. But a win is a win. The proper thing for a Beto supporter to do in such a situation is to accept defeat and move on. You can't change the past. Nothing to be gained by dwelling on what could have been.

One question, though: How long is it okay to keep your Beto O'Rourke sign up in your yard? Can you keep it there forever, or is there an actual time limit?

According to signs.com, states with restrictions on political signs usually allow "no longer than 45 days before an election" and "7-10 days after" the election.

Texas law is a little more lenient, allowing for "the period from 90 days before an election to which the sign relates until 10 days after the election is over."

So, to answer the question, maybe two weeks, if nobody notices. And probably nobody would. (Unless your neighborhood has an HOA that limits things like signs.) Sign enforcement falls on the city of Dallas Code Compliance Department, but they focus on signs illegally posted on a public right of way.

In my neighborhood, having the Beto signs has felt like a secret handshake. Even if I didn't know my neighbors, I knew that, in the houses behind the Beto signs, I could very possibly get a nice cappuccino.

Voting, a 1954 book by Bernard Berelson, Paul Lazarsfeld, and William McPhee, found that signs spread political information between two people even if a conversation never takes place.

When my new neighbors moved in across the street in the spring, they had a Beto sticker on their car. The lady who lived there previously had a Trump sticker on her car.

I took this as a clear sign to install a Beto sign in my front yard.

A few weeks later, they put a Beto sign in their yard.

A few weeks after that, the hipsters who live next door put up not one but two Beto signs. (This was surely camaraderie, not competition, although it did provoke a momentary impulse to order two more signs so that my yard would have three.)

Texas Monthly says that "whatever the future holds, Beto O’Rourke erased the idea that Texas is a solid Republican red state," and that Texas now has a "purple hue."

The Texas Secretary of State found that out of a total 18,066,827 potential voters in Texas, the majority did not vote. That includes 2,278,898 people who were registered but did not go to the polls, and 7,478,933 who are eligible to vote but are simply not registered.

Added up, that's nearly 10 million people who could have voted but did not. Gotta be some purple in there.

As for the signs, CultureMap managing editor Stephanie Allmon Merry, who used to work at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram says that, "back in the olden features days, we would give Beto signs to Martha Stewart-like craft people and let them have fun with them."

Can we at least keep them until we put up our Xmas lights?