Everyone has a gripe about political signs. There are too many of them, they distract drivers, they are ugly.

They are also an example of free speech, and not just any free speech but political speech, which is exactly the kind of speech the founders tried to protect when they wrote the First Amendment. State law puts limits on when and where the signs with candidates’ names can be posted. They have to come down right after Election Day, and a candidate cannot post a sign on someone else’s private property.

But towns that want to go farther should be ready to face a challenge in court, as the town of Alfred learned in a letter last week from the ACLU of Maine.

Like democracy itself, political signs can be annoying and inconvenient, but that’s the price we pay for self government.