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What Happened to the Campaign Signs?

Virginia law makes campaign signs on highway medians illegal.

Fairfax County residents might have noticed a distinct lack of campaign signs on highway medians this election season, and county officials say constituents couldn’t be happier.

Posting signs on public rights-of-way such as highways had become a pesky common practice that annoyed both residents and county officials. But legislation drawn up by Del. Dave Albo (R-42) took care of the problem, making all political signs illegal if they’re on public property.

Albo’s bill also amended part of Virginia state code that created a loophole specific to Fairfax County, making it unlawful to remove signs from public rights-of-way until three days after an election.

But under new law, the county can now form an agreement with the Virginia Department of Transportation to remove the signs.

The Board of Supervisors has yet to vote on such an agreement, but Supervisor Pat Herrity (R-Springfield) has been vocal about establishing a funding structure for a program to remove illegal signs and fine violators. Herrity told Patch that the agreement should come before the Board sometime this December.

“Signs placed in the median are really a blight on our community,” he said. “They can be dangerous and they’re illegal.”

And residents are pleased that the medians have stayed sign-free during the 2012 election season.

“Just about everyone I’ve talked to has been ecstatic that they didn’t have to look at the signs in the median this elections season,” Herrity said.

He also stressed that the law didn’t just pertain to political signs, but to all signs.

VDOT has already handed out hundreds of dollars in fines to different vendors who have failed to comply with the law, Herrity said, thanking the Commonwealth for helping to keep medians clear.

Campaign signs, political advertisements and other signs are still legal if they’re kept on private property, such as homes and lawns. Some restrictions do apply, in accordance with the county’s sign ordinance. Click here for more information.

Residents who see signs of any kind on public medians should call the Virginia Department of Transportation at 703-383-8368.

Curveball November 09, 2012 at 08:42 PM
Amen. When I can, I stop and remove commercial signs. Things like school plays and church bazaars are OK. But signage for Taekwondo lessons, leaf removal and whatever else someone is doing to try to make a buck for personal gain are litter, pure and simple. When I can, I remove them. I have quite a collection in my garage. The ones heavily stapled to utility poles have risen higher and higher over the years, thanks to stepladders in the back of pickup trucks. If the county got serious about this, meaning enforcement, it would drop significantly. Hint to cops: I suspect they're doing it during the couple of dark hours before sunrise.
John Farrell November 10, 2012 at 03:31 AM
The 1st Amendment supersedes County Ordinances and State Code and gives special protection to political speech including campaign signs. Political signs are not included in the prohibition referenced. Fairfax's authority to remove commercial signs doesn't go into effect until an agreement is entered into by VDOT & the County. Political campaign signs are legal, just like picketing on public sidewalks is legal.
John Farrell November 10, 2012 at 03:34 AM
Curveball Taking those signs has gotten folks charge with theft. Be careful, if the value of the signs taken totals more than $1,000, it can result in a felony charge.
John Farrell November 10, 2012 at 03:36 AM
"median signs' and "yard signs' are synonyms. what is a "pure voting system?"
Marie November 10, 2012 at 02:15 PM
Patch - you should have reported this story a while ago. I did not know about this and am guessing the thousands of people who travel 123 didn't either, or didn't know the phone number to call to remove the Obama signs. I would have thought that VDOT would have picked them up if they knew they shouldn't be there while they are endlessly working on the roads.

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