Yard Sign Sanity

roadway.jpgWheeling News-Register offers some reasonable advice for campaign yard signs along the highway:

Campaign signs are an important part of any political season. The rights of candidates and their supporters to place them are protected to an extent, as they should be, by the First Amendment.But there are limits. Many municipalities have restrictions on them, as do both the states of West Virginia and Ohio. They are not supposed to be placed on public highway rights-of-way, though many of those erecting them ignore that ban. Many local governments also ban their placement on utility poles or road signs.

Of course, there are practical reasons for some bans. A forest of signs at an intersection can block drivers’ views, creating hazardous conditions. Staples and nails used to attach signs to utility poles can make climbing them dangerous for repair crews. Those are just two of the many reasons for mandated limits on where signs of any kind can be placed.

None of that seems to make any difference to some candidates and their supporters — in part, we suspect, because enforcement of the bans often is sporadic, if it occurs at all. Street and highway crews, particularly at this time of the year when potholes created during the winter demand attention, have other priorities.

Still, we urge candidates and their supporters to obey the laws regarding campaign signs. When that doesn’t happen, we encourage local and state agencies to remove signs placed illegally on public property.

Once the elections are over, we ask that candidates and their supporters remove their posters and placards. The overwhelming majority of candidates in our area do that — but a few don’t seem to understand that leaving their signs in place amounts to littering.

Political campaigns are important, at the local, state and national levels. Candidates have a right to get their messages out. But doing that irresponsibly tells voters something about the candidates, in our opinion — and it certainly doesn’t create a favorable impression.

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