Sign, sign, everywhere a sign

Published 8:00 am Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Political signs now legal to be place in right of ways

POLK COUNTY — The time has come.

On Monday, political signs were legally allowed to be placed in state right of ways and not just on private property.

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Polk County Elections Director Cliff Marr said North Carolina Statutes allow political signs during the period beginning on the 30th day before the beginning of one-stop early voting and ending on the 10th day after Election Day in the right of way of state highway systems.

Early voting begins Oct. 17, so the first day signs could be placed in state rights of way was Monday.

The statutes also say the person placing the sign must obtain permission of any property owner of a residence, business or religious institution fronting the right of way where a sign would be placed, and unlawfully removing a sign is a class 3 misdemeanor.

Individual counties and municipalities have their own ordinances pertaining to election signs, including Polk County, Columbus and Tryon.

The county’s ordinance states that temporary signs with or without a frame, attached to a structure or freestanding, which is intended to be displayed for a limited time or a specific event, not to exceed 60 days, are exempt.

Columbus’ ordinance specifically mentions political signs, and states they may be posted on private property only after the official campaign period has begun, and must be removed within one week of the election.

Tryon also addresses political signs, and states that signs may be displayed during a period beginning 30 days prior to an election and concluding 48 hours after the election. Tryon also requires a maximum of one sign per candidate per lot.

Saluda does not have an ordinance for political signs, so state law prevails there.

Signs in front of the Democratic Headquarters in Columbus. (Photo by Leah Justice/Tryon Daily Bulletin)

Marr said the North Carolina Department of Transportation is responsible for sign placement noncompliance in state rights of way.

“Municipalities can enforce their ordinances,” Marr said. “The board of elections informs candidates of appropriate statutes and is responsible for violations regarding to the content of the signs, not the placement.”

Signs in front of the Republican Headquarters in Columbus. (Photo by Leah Justice/Tryon Daily Bulletin)

This year’s election is on Tuesday, Nov. 6, with early voting ending Saturday, Nov. 3. Early voting will only be done at the Polk County Board of Elections this year from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays and 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays.

Marr said the satellite early voting stations in Mill Spring and Green Creek were closed this year because of strict new requirements set by the General Assembly. Marr said closing the satellite facilities will affect about 500 voters, who will now have to early vote at the election’s office in Columbus.

He estimates that the county will receive approximately 4,000 early votes this year.

The last day to register to vote in the 2018 election is Oct. 12.

Polk County’s ballot will include the local races of Polk County Board of Commissioner, sheriff, clerk of court and school board.

The ballot for three seats on the board of commissioners will include Democrat candidates Carolyn Ashburn, Chrelle Booker and incumbent Ray Gasperson. The Republican candidates for commissioner are Paul Beiler and incumbent Tommy Melton.

Sheriff candidates on the ballot include Democrat B.J. Bayne and Republican Tim Wright.

Polk County Clerk of Court Pam Hyder (D) will also be on the ballot with no challengers, as well as Polk County School Board candidates Mike Ashworth (Tryon), Geoffrey Tennant (Columbus), Sherry Page (Green Creek) and Judy Jackson (Coopers Gap), with no challengers.

For more information about the upcoming election, people may visit or call the election’s office at 828-894-8181.