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Campaign signs 101: What are the rules?

6:05 PM, Jul 30, 2012   |    comments
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You can tell it is election season not just by the ads running on TV,  but the signs all along our roadways as well.

So what are the rules for where they can be?  Well depending on what county or even city you live in, the rules can be different.

There are some rules that extend statewide.  Such as, no campaign signs can be put on public rights of ways and you can't tack or nail the signs to utility poles along the roads, because those are considered parts of the rights of way.  Campaign signs can be put in front of private businesses or homes, but you have to have the permission of the owner.  The statewide rule for when signs must come down is 30 days after the election, unless otherwise specified by the county or municipality.

If someone steals or damages one of your campaign signs, you should report it to your local law enforcement, not the elections office.  Also, if you see a sign that is in the right of way of a road, you should report that to your local code enforcement office.

Since the rules vary by county and municipality, First Coast News contacted several elections offices to find out the specific rules.  We've broken down the important parts below.

Duval County -   Public rights of way are off limits along with government buildings.  There is also a limit of one sign per candidate or issue a resident can have on their property.  Duval County gives candidates 30 days to pick up their signs after the election.  Jerry Holland, the Supervisor of Elections for Duval County, says no fines have ever been applied for any broken rules, but the DOT will remove signs that are put in the rights of way.  (Municipalities rules may vary)

St. John's County -  No political signs on the rights of way.  Candidates have seven days after the election to remove the signs.  If the rules are violated it could lead to a fine of $118 for a first violation and $268 for a repeat violation.   Serious violations could lead to an appearance before the Special Magistrate.

St. Augustine Beach - Signs can be put up 10 days prior to early voting, 20 days before the election.  The signs must be removed within 7 days after the elections.

St. Augustine - Political signs are not allowed in any of the city's Historic Preservation Districts and must be removed within 7 days after the election.  Handbills and advertisements may not be placed on cars, public streets or sidewalks.

Clay County - Public rights of way are off limits. Signs must be removed within 7 days.  If the signs are not removed the county can charge the candidate for the cost of removal.  For each parcel of land, only one election sign is allowed for each candidate or issue.  Signs must be set back 5 feet from all property lines.

Columbia County
- Public rights of way are off limits. Signs can be displayed for 60 days prior to an election and must be removed within 7 days after the election.  Before erecting signs, candidates or their representatives must notify code enforcement of their intent and acknowledge they know the rules.  Violations of the rules could lead to a misdemeanor offense of Florida statutes 775.082.

Lake City - No signs on property owned by the city.  Signs can be on private property with written permission.

Baker County - Signs can go up 30 days prior to early voting, but must be removed 48 hours after the election.

Macclenny - Signs can't go up until 30 days prior to early voting.  No political signs unless you have a sign permit, "a single overall sign permit may be obtained for placement of more than one political sign, including multiple signs displayed as part of a city-wide campaign."  Candidates have 5 days after the elections to remove the signs.  Prior to the placement of the political signs, a bond or cash of $250 must be posted with the city.  For each violation, $25 of the bond amount will be forfeited and the entire $250 could be lost in full or in part if the signs are not gone after 5 days.

Camden County - Not allowed on state rights of way and must be taken out by 10 days after the election.  Violators could be cited $175 dollars by code enforcement.

Bradford County - Signs can go up 60 days before the primary, but must be removed 14 days after.  Rules on where the signs can or can't go defaults to the state.

First Coast News

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