Thursday, May 21, 2015

Research Q of the Week: Election Campaign Signs (5/21/15)

Question: We have a special election coming up, and there have been some complaints about signs being posted in the right-of-way. Can we have a city employee remove the signs?

Answer: Sometimes. The authority responsible for the road where the sign is posted may remove an illegally placed sign, so cities may remove noncommercial signs posted illegally on city streets.

Other sign locales? Not so much. Counties are responsible for signs on county roads, and the Minnesota Department of Transportation is responsible for removing illegal signs from state highways.

For most cities, illegally placed signs on city streets are removed by public works or police department staff because they are usually the first to notice them as they regularly travel city streets.

Cities may also contact the owner of the sign and have them remove the sign or designate a city staff member to do so. Candidates should not remove illegally posted signs that they do not own.

Always remember that removing illegal signs should be done in a fair and impartial manner. When a city removes an illegal sign, it is best practice to store the sign and notify the owner of the storage location, so he or she may pick up the sign. Many cities choose to temporarily store signs at city hall or a public works garage so they are easily retrievable by the owner.

More information about election campaign signs can be found in this new Election Campaign Signs information memo.

Written by Amber Eisenschenk, staff attorney with the League of Minnesota Cities. Contact: aeisenschenk@lmc.org or (651) 281-1227.

This blog post conveys general information. It’s not legal advice. Please check with your city attorney before acting on this information.

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