State Rules for Campaign Signs

Political signs are a common sight along our roads and highways and just one of the ways residents can express their views and choices heading into elections. But if they aren’t placed carefully, they can make it hard for drivers to see and create obstacles for workers trying to mow. The NC Department of Transportation reminds all campaigns and political parties to comply with the regulations for placement of political signs.  Illegally placed signs can be removed by NCDOT employees, but it is unlawful to remove or deface signs that are placed appropriately. Anyone with questions about political signs can call the Chief Engineer’s Office (919-707-2500).

The Jackson County Democratic Party asks everyone to follow the rules below, and see the NC General Assembly website for the full text of the Act to Permit Campaign Signs. We’re including below the letter from Transportation Secretary Nicholas Tennyson to NCDP Chairwoman Patsy Keever.

From SESSION LAW 2011-408 SENATE BILL 315, SECTION 1. G.S. 136-32:

The Department of Transportation may remove any signs erected without authority. authority or allowed to remain beyond the deadline established in subsection (b) of this section.

(b) Compliant Political Signs Permitted. – During the period beginning on the 30th day before the beginning date of “one-stop” early voting under G.S. 163-227.2 and ending on the 10th day after the primary or election day, persons may place political signs in the right-of-way of the State highway system as provided in this section. Signs must be placed in compliance with subsection (d) of this section and must be removed by the end of the period prescribed in this subsection.

(c) Definition. – For purposes of this section, “political sign” means any sign that advocates for political action. The term does not include a commercial sign.

(d) Sign Placement. – The permittee must obtain the permission of any property owner of a residence, business, or religious institution fronting the right-of-way where a sign would be erected. Signs must be placed in accordance with the following:

(1) No sign shall be permitted in the right-of-way of a fully controlled access highway.

(2) No sign shall be closer than three feet from the edge of the pavement of the road.

(3) No sign shall obscure motorist visibility at an intersection.

(4) No sign shall be higher than 42 inches above the edge of the pavement of the road.

(5) No sign shall be larger than 864 square inches.

(6) No sign shall obscure or replace another sign.

(e) Penalties for Unlawful Removal of Signs. – It is a Class 3 misdemeanor for a person to steal, deface, vandalize, or unlawfully remove a political sign that is lawfully placed under this section. Page 2 Session Law 2011-408 Senate Bill 315

(f) Application Within Municipalities. – Pursuant to Article 8 of Chapter 160A of the General Statutes, a city may by ordinance prohibit or regulate the placement of political signs on rights-of-way of streets located within the corporate limits of a municipality and maintained by the municipality. In the absence of an ordinance prohibiting or regulating the placement of political signs on the rights-of-way of streets located within a municipality and maintained by the municipality, the provisions of subsections (b) through (e) of this section shall apply.”

Letter regarding campaign signs from Transportation Secretary Nick Tennyson to NC Democratic Party Chairwoman, Patsy Keever, March 18, 2016.

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