So it is that time of year again where the elections have come up, and where I live signs have popped up everywhere saying to vote for so and so. They are very annoying, as they are on every street. I want to take them down and throw them away since they are on public city streets, but I want to make sure that I’m not breaking any law. Am I?
The people who put them up there are likely breaking the law, in most jurisdictions.
If you removed them, it is likely that you, too are breaking the law. Unless you are an authorized law enforcement officer or public worker of that jurisdiction.
In general, citizens who see illegal activity are not supposed to take on the duties of law enforcement officers themself. Except in the case of imminent danger to the life or limb of another person.
Very likely. A Seattle are guy was caught taking signs and is now in trouble.
The whole story is here.
Not likely. When I ran for a seat on my local water district I was given a booklet with all the rules and laws that I had to follow. The section on campaign signs stated that cities and counties could not restrict the placement of the signs on public right of ways and certain other properties, the signs are consider a form of free speech. The booklet referenced a US Supreme Court decision. The signs cannot block the vision of traffic, interfere with the used of sidewalks and cannot be posted on traffic control posts or poles. Telephone poles, which are generally owned by utility companies, are also a no-no. Most places do have laws on how long the signs can remain up after an election, in my state it’s 7 days.
Upon further review it appears I was incorrect. State, cities and such can restrict the placement of political signs on public property. I found my booklet from 1996 and it does state the placement of signs along state highways is prohibited. A Google check revealed the same laws exist in many other states. The Supreme Court decision reference above dealt with the placement of campaign signs on public property. Cities and such cannot ban the signs on private property.