In the weeks leading up to Election Day, lawn signs promoting candidates for political offices and views on certain issues appear on front lawns all over town. But once Election Day has passed, they disappear — sometimes seemingly overnight.
As it turns out, these signs can end up in a variety of places and are often reused for future election campaigns.
Many times, political candidates who plan to be up for election or re-election in the future will take signs that they used for a previous political campaign and send them to a sign maker to either be stored away or be relabeled. The latter option is sometimes chosen again and again by candidates who run in consecutive elections.
Bart Thomas, one of the owners of Thomas Outdoor Signs and Graphics, said the candidates who win use the same signs over and over again because it’s more cost-effective.
“Sydney Carlin, I’m still using her original signs and what we did, we patched over the word ‘elect’ and we put in ‘re-elect,'” Thomas said.
New lawn signs, Thomas said, can range in price from $1.50 to $2.00 per sign, so choosing to reuse signs can be a financially wise decision.
“As a cost to the individual candidate, you know, it’s far, far cheaper, especially a case like her running again, you know, to reuse the signs,” Thomas said.
Thomas said candidates will sometimes opt to let the sign company put yard signs up and take them down for them. The owner of yard that the sign is in is not always the owner of the sign, and some candidates don’t always want their signs to stay up for very long after Election Day.
“Nine times out of ten, the candidate would not leave his sign up in the person’s yard because that exhibits a real negative. It’s very derogatory, whether they won or they didn’t, you know what I mean?” Thomas said. “And that’s why all of the candidates that we have worked with over the years, they have a specific list as to where their signs go up at.”
When it comes to the decision of whether to collect signs from their locations, Rep. Steve Becker from the Kansas House lost to Paul Waggoner in this year’s midterm, and he takes a more lenient approach.
“I generally pick most of them up that are in rural areas not associated with a residence,” Becker said. “If they’re in the front yard of a residence, I think I am just going to let the resident take care of it. But if they’re along a roadway or something like that, I’ve been stopping to pick them up.”
Despite having paid for the yard signs, Becker isn’t concerned with who owns the signs.
“I pay for these yard signs and then I give them away,” Becker said. “I do not care if the resident who is displaying it keeps it or destroys it after the election or anything like that. My view is I’m giving them away. And oftentimes they keep them for the next election cycle.”
If residents are able to keep the political signs displayed in their yards, they are sometimes going to have the choice of recycling them.
“It’s going to be the same thing as, like, a newspaper, you know what I mean?” Thomas said. “People are going to, I think, be conscious of our environment and take it down to Howie’s [Recycling and Trash Service] separately.”