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Spencer Rendahl: Yard Sign Sabotage

Suzanne Spencer Rendahl
Signs for candidates of opposing New Hampshire parties line both sides of writer Suzanne Spencer Rendahl's road.

Well, it’s two weeks before the midterm election, and some of our yard signs have disappeared. Again. We live on a main road, with all the customary advantages and disadvantages. We don’t have as much privacy as others in town who live on dirt roads that meander through the woods. But our road is almost always plowed in the winter, and we rarely lose our power.

And our visibility makes us popular during election seasons; candidates often ask us to put up their yard signs. We have neighbors who’ve taken their prime political real estate a step further and use their lawns to display home-made signs and even effigies of opposing candidates. We stick to the more conventional placards.

But even so, ours were vandalized in 2016, when someone took what I can only imagine was a baseball bat to one sign that summer. I fixed it and put it back up. But a month or so later, all the signs disappeared. The police dutifully documented the tampering both times and gave us a two-word suggestion: “game camera.” It’s a device that snaps a photo when it detects motion – whether from a deer walking by our signs or a vandal smashing them. And we considered it.

But we honestly didn’t think it would be necessary during a mid-term election, because the highest offices up for grabs in New Hampshire this year are governor and house rep. According to election forecasting website Fivethirtyeight.com, which I have up until very recently resisted checking, those elections aren’t even close, so I didn’t see a big risk of yard sign tampering.

Clearly, I was mistaken.

Right on my street, there are other signs featuring some candidates I vehemently disagree with – but I can see them and still appreciate that I live in a place where people can express their opinions and disagree – usually politely.

I tell my kids how important the first amendment is and that in some other countries, expressing one’s opinions about politics in any form isn’t tolerated.

I just wish that those who disagree with me would respect my right to express an opinion on my own private property in turn, and not try to silence it with theft or destruction.