With the primaries around the corner and the general elections heating up, condominium and homeowners association communities throughout Florida are faced with the issue of political signs being posted in front yards, on balconies, in windows and common areas. As an Association Lawyer, I advise associations to be extremely careful with how they create and enforce restrictions that prohibit political expression/speech.

Most Associations have restrictive language contained within their governing documents that prohibit residents from posting signs anywhere on the unit or the property.  Political signs, however, give rise to issues of freedom of speech, which is protected by the First Amendment.

It is important to note, that Community Associations (Condos/HOAs) are allowed to restrict signage, including political signs. Restrictions on freedom of speech under the First Amendment apply only in governmental or public settings, so community associations, as private non-governmental entities, are allowed to restrict political signs.

However, Florida’s associations should careful and cautious when enforcing rules and regulations concerning political signs and to do so very judiciously and under the watchful guidance of highly experienced association legal counsel.

The process should always begin by reviewing the association’s governing documents to understand the community’s current parameters concerning the posting of signs.  If the board and its legal counsel determine that modifications to enhance the existing rules under the community’s governing documents are in order, it is advisable that they undertake the membership voting process for amending the documents with the new regulations rather than adopting the rule as an action of the board.

Boards should also consider adopting reasonable measures, such as the permissible sizes and locations for the signs, how long before or after an election they may be posted, and safety issues including vehicle lines of sight. Once the regulations are established, enforcement must be fair and consistent. 


Want to know more about the local judicial candidates appearing on your August primary ballot? Wondering about Florida’s merit retention elections for appellate judges?

The Florida Bar provides a wealth of information as part of its initiative to educate Florida’s voters about judicial elections that is easily accessible from The Florida Bar website.

The Vote’s in Your Court webpage includes a “Guide for Florida Voters,” an easy-to-read, nonpartisan brochure about the courts and the role of judges; statements submitted by trial court judicial candidates; and biographies of the judges facing merit retention elections in November. Results of the Bar’s merit retention poll of lawyers who have appeared before the judges up for merit retention will be posted in early September.

The Bar also has printed 50,000 copies of the “Guide for Florida Voters,” which is available at supervisor of elections offices throughout the state and at many public libraries. Copies are available to civic groups upon request; email A Spanish version is available online and printed copies will soon be distributed by members of Florida’s Hispanic voluntary bars.

Detailed information on more than 60 county and circuit court judicial candidates is also now available on The Florida Bar’s website. The opportunity to submit a judicial candidate voluntary self-disclosure statement was offered to all candidates for contested seats. The 10-page statements give voters basic biographical information, legal experience and community work, as well as a short essay on why the candidates feel they would be good judges.

The Bar’s “Guide for Florida Voters” also answers many questions voters might have about merit retention and what judges do. On the webpage there are also links to the Code of Judicial Conduct, biographies of the appeals court judges and one Supreme Court justice up for merit retention, and links to appellate court opinions. The merit retention poll will be conducted in August, with results published in early September.

Election dates this year are Aug. 18 and Nov. 3. All county and circuit judicial races appear on the primary ballot, with runoffs in November. The merit retention vote is on the November ballot.