It’s almost the end of primary season, and that means it’s time for election shenanigans to reach their peak. Let’s look at some of the intentional (and unintentional) fun and games as we head toward May 22.

Illegal campaign signs

Every candidate lusts after great yard sign places: a corner lot at a busy intersection, or a major thoroughfare with lots of voters every day. Name recognition, baby!

But, some candidates get a little TOO lustful, and put up signs that are illegal. Specifically, they put signs in the right of way along a street or highway.

Here are two such signs, of many that we could have photographed. We’ve blobbed out the candidates, as our goal isn’t to dime out these two candidates. (We could put up an entire gallery from such signs across the state.) Rather, it is to remind candidates that such sign placements, while powerful, are illegal.

Campaign sign
An illegal campaign sign in the right-of-way of a busy thoroughfare.

Campaign sign
Another illegal campaign sign in that same right-of-way.

Technically, the opponents of these candidates could file a complaint. Or, they could ask the highway crews to take the signs down. (In some states, highway crews automatically take down and destroy any signs they find in the right-of-way.)

That’s up to the opponents. For now, we’re just going to point out, as we do every election, that the rules apply to everyone, and that goes for signs as well. If you’re a candidate or a volunteer, don’t commit this most common of election shenanigans.

Sign Vandalism

Speaking of signs, we’ve gotten multiple reports of campaign volunteers removing or damaging their opponent’s signs. In most cases, it’s simply a case of the Midnight Sign Stealers. But in one rather brazen case, the opponent actually put their sign right in front of the original sign. (That candidate took lemons and made lemonade; took a phone video of what had happened and posted it to Facebook.)

I get that you want to win. I wanted to win in 2014. I had a LOT more signs than my opponent, but hers were bigger. <g> Did I take hers down? No, I tried to get more of mine out there. That’s what you do.

The placing of signs in the right-of-way is usually one of the unintentional election shenanigans. Stealing signs? That’s intentional election shenanigans, and indicates a win-at-all-costs attitude. It’s wrong. Don’t do it.

Sign vandalism indicates a win-at-all-costs attitude. It's wrong. Don't do it.Click To Tweet

Illegal coordination

We received one rumor (only that) that a certain PAC had hired workers for a certain candidate. The tipster went on to ask, Wonder how the PAC knows what to have the workers do?

So, to make sure I was clear on the campaign laws involved, I reached out to Russell Lloyd, the chair of the Louisville Democratic party. As I suspected, the rules work like this:

  • Groups outside the campaign can spend their own money to help the campaign, including hiring workers. That is one of the purposes of a PAC, after all. Completely legal and okay.
  • BUT – and a giant but – the outside group may not coordinate with the campaign in any way. They can’t share plans, they can’t share lists, and they certainly can’t share assignments.

I asked the person who first contacted me if they had any proof that the PAC had coordinated, and they did not. So, at this point, all of that looks to be in the clear.

How about you?

Got any shenanigans to report? Any dirty tricks, or sorta-dirty tricks, or just plain old stupid stuff? Email us at Tips@ForwardKY.com and let us know about them. We may share them, or we may not; just depends on how they check out, and what proof you include.

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Bruce Maples
Bruce Maples has been involved in politics and activism since 2004, when he became active in the Kerry Kentucky movement. He has been President, Vice-President, and Treasurer of the Metro Democratic Club, and has served on the Democratic Party Executive Committee in Louisville. He began blogging in 2004, and currently operates two personal blogs (BruceMaples.com and brucewriter.com). He founded Forward Kentucky in the wake of the state elections in 2015, and expanded it in the summer of 2016. He has lived in Louisville since 1992 with his wife and two sons.