Rules for political signs

Tuesday, September 24, 2019 - 2:32pm

Political signs are going up around the community in advance of the Nov. 5 local election. For complete information on the election, visit the Wake County Board of Elections website at www.wakegov.com/elections/Pages/default.aspx.

The Town of Wake Forest often receives inquiries from area residents and candidates concerning rules for political signs.

While temporary political signs advertising candidates or issues are permitted, a combination of state law and municipal code regulates how political signs may be displayed within Wake Forest.

State Statute 136-32 (www.ncga.state.nc.us/gascripts/statutes/statutelookup.pl?statute=136-32) regulates political signs on State-owned roads. This law permits campaign signs in the right-of-way of the State highway system according to the following criteria:

  • Signs in the public right-of-way should not be erected more than 30 days before the beginning date of “one-stop” early voting election and must be removed within 10 days after the election.

  • State law (applicable to State right-of-way) requires that signs be placed no less than three feet from the edge of the pavement of the road or more than 42 inches above the edge of the pavement.

  • No signs may obscure motorist visibility at an intersection or be larger than 864 square inches. Also, no sign shall obscure or replace another sign.

  • No campaign sign should exceed six square feet in area or 42 inches in height.

Wake Forest’s Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) (11.10.13) regulates how political signs may be displayed within Wake Forest. It applies the following standards to Town-maintained streets and private property:

  • Such signs shall not be illuminated.

  • Political signs shall not be located on any trees, utility poles, publicly-owned property or within a public street right-of-way, except within NCDOT right-of-way according to the standards of NCGS 136-32.

  • Such signs may not exceed 4 square feet in area and 4 feet in height if freestanding.

  • Political signs may be displayed during a period beginning with the established filing date for an election and concluding 10 days after the election. In the event of a runoff election, political signs for the candidates involved may remain on display until 10 days after the runoff election.

Signs placed on private property:

  • Require the permission of the property owner;

  • may only be posted after the election filing date;

  • must be removed within 15 days of the election;

  • may not exceed 4 square feet in area and 4 feet in height;

  • shall not interfere with visual clearance along any street or at any intersection.

Finally, the public is reminded that anyone who knowingly removes, alters or defaces a campaign sign is guilty of a crime. It is a misdemeanor for a person to steal, deface, vandalize, or unlawfully remove a political sign that is lawfully placed. 

For more information, contact the Wake Forest Planning Department at 919-435-9510.