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Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Top Stories > General

‘Signs don't vote'

Oct 15, 2020

By: ISABEL BRAVERMAN | DEMOCRAT
A group of political signs sit along Route 97 outside of Narrowsburg.
SULLIVAN COUNTY -- Each year during election season, reports of stolen and/or damaged political signs come to the surface.
While there might be disagreement among political parties when it comes to regional and national issues, locally, people of different political backgrounds are united when it comes to their opposition to the stealing, defacing and/or damaging of political signs.
Sullivan County Conservative Party Chairman Ed Magilton said in 2016, they were replacing signs every other day on Route 97.
“We're supposed to live in a Democratic society where people can express support for a candidate of their choosing by putting out a political sign,” he said. “It's sad that people think they can suppress people's freedom of expression by defacing or removing an opposing candidate's sign.”
He added that if he sees a sign he disagrees with, he just looks the other way.
“Let your voice be heard when you go to vote,” Magilton said.
County Coroner Alan Kesten has a 4 ft by 8 ft sign supporting President Donald J. Trump on the lawn in front of one of his rentals that was recently defaced with spray paint.
“Spray painting or destruction of any political sign is wrong, juvenile and above all a crime,” said Kesten. “If you don't like my sign, put any sign you like on your lawn. Every American has the right to his or her decision on how to vote, both locally and nationally, but does not have the right to damage or deface any signs.”
Moreen Lerner, Chair of the Bethel Democratic Committee New York (BDCNY) said she was notified a few weeks ago that a sign supporting NYS Senator Jen Metzger on Perry Road was knocked into a ditch and added that one of the BDCNY members told her signs have also mysteriously disappeared on Ballard Road.
“Stealing, damaging or altering political signs is something that has become a routine part of any political season,” Lerner said. “These temporary signs, just bits of cardboard, reflect freedom of expression. Stealing or trashing them stifles this expression. What we really need is to get back to civility where people work together across party lines for the good of our country's democracy.”
Lerner added that our society is in a politically charged time and that, “We need to redouble our efforts to respect people and their property with whom we may not politically agree. Stealing signs is no way to support your candidate regardless of your party affiliation, or which candidate you like; have respect for your neighbor. We all have differences of opinion. Let's respect those opinions and let's not be stepping into somebody else's yard and stealing their sign.”
Undersheriff Eric Chaboty said the Sullivan County Sheriff's Office gets calls each election season about political signs, but noted that this year they haven't gotten any more than usual.
He reiterated that stealing, defacing and/or damaging someone's political sign is a crime, and added that, “Signs don't vote. So if you steal a sign, don't think you're impacting an election. It's just going to get you into trouble.”

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