Tampering with political signs illegal

Published 4:33 pm Monday, October 15, 2012

At right: A Pittman sign sits in front the car wash on Trade St. in Tryon across from IGA. A fake moustache has defaced the sign (inset). (photos by Gwen Ring)

With Election Day Nov. 6 closing in, campaign signs dotting the main drags of Polk County often mysteriously disappear or appear with added graffiti, campaign volunteers say.
While this might be commonplace, it is also illegal.
“People think it’s just in the spirit of competition to yank a sign down or they think if it’s in a public thoroughfare its free game, but that’s not the law,” said Lee Stockdale, a volunteer with the Polk County Democratic Party.
Stockdale said they’ve had numerous reports of signs being stolen or vandalized and said he has no doubt it’s happening to Republican campaigns as well.
Vandalizing or stealing a political sign is a class one misdeamoner, according to the magistrate’s office. Class one misdemeanors are punishable by less than a year in prison.
A sign for Marche Pittman outside the car wash in Tryon, for example, was vandalized earlier this month when someone placed a fake mustache across his face.
Pittman said he’s also had quite a few signs stolen in the last few days alone from Hunting Country road.
Stockdale said people need to be respectful of the money campaigns have spent to put these signs out – depending on the quality each one can cost around $5 – and the time volunteers have taken to help distribute signs.

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