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Know the rules on where to place political signs

With candidates now set and the Nov. 3 general election not all that far away, time for some reminders on what can — and can’t — be done with political signs.

Rules include:

— Signs adjacent to county roads must be a minimum of 14 feet from the outside edge of the road’s shoulder.

— Signs cannot be placed within the clear vision areas on intersections.

— Signs must be removed from the county right-of-way within 10 days after the election.

— The Dickinson County Road Commission reserves the right to remove any sign not placed in accordance with these rules.

The Michigan Department of Transportation also has rules for state and federal highways, which include:

— Signs must be placed more than 30 feet from the edge of the road on highways without barrier-type curbs. On highways with barrier curbs, signs must be more than 3 feet from the back of the curb.

— Signs are not allowed within clear vision areas at intersections, commercial driveways or within limited-access right-of-ways.

— Any signs with steel or wooden posts that do not meet MDOT safety standards are not allowed in the right-of-way.

— Candidates are responsible for obtaining approval from adjacent property owners before placing signs.

— Signs must be removed within 10 days after the election.

— Any signs that do not meet these criteria will be removed. Candidates can pick up any removed signs at local MDOT offices and maintenance garages. Signs not claimed within seven days of removal will be discarded.

And a final note — while the road commission and state workers can take down signs, it’s illegal otherwise to do so. Candidates and their supporters have a free speech right, upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court, to declare who they back, even if opponents disagree.

Theft of political signs is a crime in all 50 states. In Michigan, stealing or defacing signs is a misdemeanor in Michigan that can carry a maximum penalty of a $500 fine or imprisonment of up to 90 days, according to state law.

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