EDITORIAL: Leave other people's signs alone

York Dispatch Editorial Board

We understand the urge. Your neighbor has lawn signs up for a candidate you don't like, maybe even flags or banners.

It's hard to see those signs every day during this highly divided, highly charged election campaign. It would be so easy to sneak over and take them away, or to wait until dark and stealthily make alterations.

But, please, don't.

Political lawn signs are disappearing around the county. Chad Baker, chairman of the Democratic Party of York County, said Wednesday the number of signs stolen connected to his organization appears to “be in the hundreds at this point,” while officials at the York County GOP say supporters are stopping by the office every day to replace their pro-Trump yard signs that have been stolen or defaced. 

More:Dirty politics? Signs being stolen, vandalized in York County

By the end of the week, Baker said his party will have distributed 5,000 Biden/Harris signs throughout York County, excluding people who purchased signs on their own or received them from other organizations.

“Out of those 5,000, there are quite a few of those that are duplicates or triplicates of signs that have been taken,” Baker said. “We’re hearing more about it this year than usual. I don’t know if that’s an indication it’s happening more or if people are being more vocal about it."

Political election signs line a lawn in Codorus Township Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2020. Bill Kalina photo

In Newberry Township, police said they have received numerous theft reports involving political signs and “Support our Police” signs, so many that the police department felt the need to send out a news release about it.

“The unauthorized removal of these types of signs is a theft and does not qualify as a legal expression under your First Amendment right to free speech, regardless of your opinion,” police said. “Currently, the political season is in full swing and everyone has the absolute right to express their opinion, but no one has the right to suppress the opinion of those with opposing views.”

That's something everyone needs to keep in mind all the time, but this year especially. 

Yes, it would be very satisfying to tear down the political flags and banners some people in York County see fit to festoon their houses and vehicles and property with. But it would be wrong, and it's also illegal.

“There are parts of the county where it seems like the signs are being untouched,” Baker said. “There’s other parts of the county, specifically in the southern part, where we have had individuals who have come to us now three or four times to replace signs that have been stolen. We’ve also seen different signs that have been spray painted to cover up what is on there.” 

That's called theft and vandalism, and it's a crime. 

Everyone has the right to express their opinion about political candidates. That's one of the keystones of our country, that Americans can speak out about the candidates they support and the candidates they oppose. And while it might make for arguments over the fence, neighbors with opposing political views need to live with each other.

We all have to keep in mind that we are a nation of laws, and while we're all on edge during this year's election season, we are also better than this. There's no need to break laws to make your political views heard. 

When you see a sign that raises your blood pressure, do something constructive. Put up your own signs. Volunteer for or donate to the campaign of your choice. Most important, vote, in person or by mail. 

And remember, we will get through this. Deep breaths, everybody.

Allison Korn-Sherman of Shrewsbury Township replaces an older sign with a Biden/Harris sign outside her home after having it delivered by Jackie Wilson, regional director of the Democratic Party of York County, Thursday, Oct. 1, 2020. Wilson has been delivering the 110 signs she has to southern York County residents who request them. Chad Baker, chairman of the county party, said it will have distributed 5,000 Biden/Harris signs in the county. Bill Kalina photo