June 06, 2020
VOTE 2006

Time’s up for campaign signs; many still litter area roadsides

BANGOR – Election Day was more than a week ago, but you’d never know it by looking at the leftover political signs still standing in the state’s less-traveled areas, including some of Bangor’s secondary roads.

According to state law, campaign signs must be removed a week after an election, primary or referendum. Despite that, however, numerous signs remain and that is making some people angry.

“We’ve had three complaints from citizens in the last two days,” Code Enforcement Officer Dan Wellington said Wednesday.

“We put in a call to both [the Republican and the Democratic party headquarters in] Augusta,” Wellington said.

While Wellington said the party representatives were “very agreeable” to getting the signs picked up, finding them could be a problem.

“These [signs] were handed out to party workers, … but it doesn’t appear that anybody gave any forethought to keeping track of where they were put up,” Wellington said.

“There are thousands of miles of roads in Maine and there are still a substantial number of stragglers,” he said.

In Bangor, he said, all but about 10 percent of the signs put up for the Nov. 7 elections have been collected. Those that remain can be found mostly on secondary streets and roads, including Davis Road, where one of the city’s polling places is located.

“Eventually the city picks them up,” he said. “At some point they become litter. There’s a cost to everything everybody does, but there are things we just do to keep the city looking nice.”

The Maine Department of Transportation also rounds up leftover signs.

Secretary of State Matt Dunlap said Wednesday that violation of the rules results in a minimal fine, but that violators rarely are penalized because most of the signs either decay on their own or are “recycled” by other candidates.

According to state law, signs are:

. Allowed within public rights of way, but only during six weeks leading to an election, primary or referendum. Signs must be removed no later than one week after the voting event. The exception is along and within view of the Interstate highway system.

. Banned from traffic control devices, utility poles as well as trees, rocks and other natural features.

State law also stipulates that municipal ordinances that are stricter than state rules governing signs take precedence. Bangor’s ordinance is no stricter than state law.

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