Submitted as a letter to the Keene Sentinel:
In a 3 to 1 vote, the Planning, Licenses, and Development committee passed a resolution to prohibit the posting of political advertising on city property and public rights-of-way. The resolution goes to full council on the 20th.
To many, the the political signage around town can be messy at times, especially during presidential years, but this resolution is a clear violation of our freedom of speech rights and also conflicts with current state statute that protects placing political signs on public property.
As it stands, RSA 31:41-c authorizes municipalities to create bylaws regulating electioneering. But state statute RSA 664:17 protects the placement of political signs on public rights-of-way, as long as it doesn’t obstruct the safe flow of traffic.
This comes right on the heels of a ridiculous new amendment to RSA 659:43 that now prohibits voters from entering the polling place wearing campaign related clothing. Clearly some of our state reps have entirely too much time on their hands.
Passing this new ordinance will undoubtedly open up lawsuits against the city which they will likely lose. The courts do routinely recognize extra protections for political speech. That means “we” the taxpayers will be picking up the tab as usual for mistakes made by the city. Please contact your city councilors and urge them to vote against this.