Campaign Signs Litter NJ — Is There Anything We Can Do About Them?
You can't miss them on your commute — campaign signs practically taking over major intersections and highway medians throughout New Jersey.
Municipalities have the right to restrict or prohibit the posting of these signs on public property, especially if they can obstruct a driver's vision. But when there's so many of them, is it worth the hassle?
In Old Bridge, campaign signs may not be posted "in the right of way or on a utility or directional sign pole," according to township clerk Stella Ward. Signs must be removed in the two weeks following an election.
"After 14 days, if they're not removed, the zoning officer along with our construction official and/or his designee shall impose a penalty of $5 per sign and they will take them down," Ward said.
Some municipalities in the Garden State are extremely vigilant with the removal of signage on public property, dispatching public works crews on a daily basis to remove signs, according to political science and law professor Brigid Callahan Harrison at Montclair State University. Others, she noted, let them stay and may not even touch them for several months.
Harrison said individuals have an unfettered right to plant signs on their own property, for as long as they'd like as well. The removal of a sign by someone other than the property owner can be considered theft.
Campaign signs on individuals' lawns, Harrison added, tend to have more power than those sharing real estate at a random intersection. Private-property signage is proof of support from fellow constituents.
"That is a much more effective mechanism of communicating support to voters than just smacking it on the side of an empty Dairy Queen," Harrison said. "They really don't effectively convey a level of support. They just convey the fact that the campaign bought signs and posted them."