A former North Dakota Republican Party chairman who doesn’t want to take down the political signs in his yard before Nov. 6 has filed a federal lawsuit challenging a century-old state law that bans campaigning on Election Day. Gary Emineth argued Wednesday that the ban violates the free-speech rights of Republicans and Democrats alike. The law, which dates to 1911, bars anyone from attempting to influence others to vote, or not vote, for any candidate or ballot measure on Election Day. The current version exempts billboards and bumper stickers, but North Dakota’s political parties believe it applies to all other forms of advertising, including radio and television spots, newspaper ads and yard signs. To comply with the ban, political candidates and their supporters often scurry to take down yard signs and banners before midnight the day before Election Day.
“To tear all these yard signs down, you can’t tell anybody, encourage people to vote for a candidate on Election Day — I think it’s totally foolish,” said Emineth, a businessman and longtime Republican activist who served as the state party’s chairman from 2007 to 2010. “In a republic where we elect people to represent us, why would you, on the day you do all your business … you’re going to offend somebody because you’ve got a sign up?” he added. Secretary of State Al Jaeger, North Dakota’s top elections official, said he and local prosecutors often get complaints on Election Day about broadcast or newspaper advertisements and yard signs that are left standing.