They've been dotting the landscape for months, but unless it's a Mitt Romney sign, it's time for all of the other candidate placards to make their way off of the roadsides.
According to RSA 664:17, campaign signs that have been placed around town must be removed no later than the second Friday following an election.
That means the deadline for sign removal is Friday, Jan. 20.
However, because this was a primary election, and there are many months to go until the general election in November, Mitt Romney, who won the state, is able to continue having signs advertising for him until the second Friday following the Nov. 6 election – Nov. 16.
Merrimack Town Clerk Diane Trippett said Wednesday that there are a lot of signs that get placed in public rights-of-way all around the state but, at least in Merrimack, the signs aren't generally removed during the election season unless it's causing a problem.
“It's kind of all a part of the election season,” she said of the bunches of signs that pop up in places they perhaps shouldn't be.
At the end of primary season, however, it's time for those signs to come down. The people who place them around town are responsible for their clean up, however, after the deadline has passed, signs that haven't been removed may be removed by state or town maintenance departments, Trippett said.
“Complaints about sign get referred to the attorney general's office,” Trippett said.
Read the full law as it pertains to placement and removal of political advertising.
As far as signs on private property go, Trippett said home owners are able to decide how long they want to keep it posted. Telling a homeowner to take down a sign in their yard would step into First Amendment issues, Trippett said.
Bruce Moreau, a Merrimack resident who works for the town's highway department, said he likes the notoriety of being the first in the nation, but is glad when the campaign calls stop and the flyers aren't filling his mail.
“Now if we can just get all the political signs off the roads, at least until the Conventions, that would be great,” Moreau wrote on Facebook. “I've always thought that the common overuse of roadside signs was eye pollution. Remember when our license plates said 'Scenic?' Not during election periods!”
Bill Boyd, a Merrimack Town Councilor who has worked closely with Rick Santorum's New Hampshire campaign, said he believes Santorum's signs and other campaign materials will be sent on to other states.
“We're going to use everything, we're not going to waste anything,” Boyd said.
He said the campaign was able to pick up a good deal of materials after Iowa when the campaign received an influx of capital, and that stuff will be spread out from New Hampshire to the next states.
“If you've got a campaign and you've got signs, you're going to keep a lot of that stuff and redeploy it from state to state.”
Boyd said he's going to hang on to a couple of signs and placards and some limited edition buttons as keepsakes, but what he's really got his eye on are a couple photos he found of himself with the former Pennsylvania senator after an event in Brentwood last week, and one of him pinning a campaign button on child at the primary night party in Manchester.
He said to him it's worth sucking up the cost of the price of a photo reprint from the Associated Press, who took the photo in Brentwood, because it's a great image.
Brian Early, media spokesperson and field organizer for Ron Paul’s New Hampshire effort, said volunteers and supporters were out in force on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning gathering up campaign signs and materials to send off to other states. He said Paul organizations in South Carolina, Colorado, Maine and Vermont, were receiving materials right away.
“This was the really cool thing,” he said. “At around 10 p.m., all these grassroots emails were sent around asking volunteers to go out and start collecting the signs. The volunteers realized that we have limited resources and needed the signs ... I like the fact that the grassroots was out there, taking charge, gathering up our stuff.”