When Do Old Election Signs Have to Be Removed In New York?
One month after election day there are still thousands of election signs littering Hudson Valley roadways. So, when do they need to legally come down?
If you're like me, you're probably sick and tired of seeing these annoying election signs still posted in town centers, shopping areas and busy roadways. It's aggravating enough to deal with all of these political messages in the fall, but now that winter is here why should we still be bothered by having to constantly look at the names of failed candidates wherever we go?
You may have heard that campaigns have a certain amount of time to take down their signs after an election or risk being fined. Well, if that's the case, there is a lot of money that's owed right here in the Hudson Valley. Honestly, you can't seem to go anywhere without seeing a month-old campaign sign.
Laws that require removing old campaign signs are questionable
It turns out that some municipalities do have rules on the books saying that outdated political signs need to come down, but unfortunately they're not enforceable.
According to New York State law, towns cannot have different rules for political signs than they do for other advertisements. A local town law saying that political signs need to be removed after a certain date isn't valid unless all of the other temporary signs would also be subject to the same law.
Anyone who's seen those Hazy Rhythm Wonder Band signs or ads for people wanting to buy your house knows that local sign removal ordinances are hardly ever enforced.
Can you remove an old campaign sign?
There are strict rules about removing campaign signs. In New York State, removing one on your own is a Class A misdemeanor that is punishable under Penal Law and Election Law. Unfortunately, some shady people in the Hudson Valley were witnessed stealing signs ahead of the latest election without any repercussions.
But when is a political sign considered a campaign sign? The grey area has had some people claim that it's perfectly fine to remove outdated political signs from public land thirty days after an election is over. We couldn't find anything on the books that confirmed this, but it would be hard to imagine anyone getting arrested or fined for cleaning up the roadside and disposing of outdated election signs.
While it's unlikely that any candidate is going to get in trouble for leaving their campaign signs up long after the election, it's a pretty disrespectful thing to do. Anyone hoping to serve the public should be mindful of the public's quality of life and get out there and recycle those old signs before the snowplows get to them. But then again, politicians always seem to care much more about their community before the election than after it's all over.