Ever political season there are complaints of political signs being stolen, but often it’s not the opposing candidate’s camp that is to blame. As in the past, the Georgia Department of Transportation is warning political candidates and campaigns not to place signs on rights of way. If they do, those signs will be removed - not by the opposing campaign, but by maintenance crews from GDOT
“Unauthorized signs are against the law,” GDOT District Engineer Bayne Smith said in a press release. “All signs on the state system, which includes all interstates and state routes, must be approved and permitted in order to be placed on our right of way. Signs that advertise yard sales, real estate for sale and/or political candidates are types of signs that are not allowed and will be removed.”
The release quotes the following Georgia Code to back up the warning.
Georgia Code 32-6-51 states that "it shall be unlawful for any person to erect, place or maintain within the right of way of any public road any sign, signal or other device except as authorized by subsection (d) of this Code section." Any person who violates the advertising restrictions of Georgia Code 32 "shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished as provided in Code Section 32-6-91."
Right of way is the strip of land over which facilities such as highways, railroads or power lines are built and maintained.
“In the midst of this political season, we want to make sure that everyone understands the laws that deal with signs along state routes and interstates,” Smith said. “Signs that are removed from right of way by Department personnel will be held for 30 days and then destroyed. If you don’t want to lose your signs, don’t place them within the right of way.”
Loganville resident and incumbent for District 3 seat, Christine Lusk, recently complained about 25 of her signs being stolen. However, she said, these were not in any right of way, but on the property of supporters. Lusk said the signs were taken from homes on Centerhill Church and Rabbit Farm roads. In this case, the Walton County Sheriff’s Office was looking into the thefts. Lusk is facing a challenge from Diane Turner for the seat. In a story in The Walton Tribune, Turner also condemned the thefts.