Campaign signs still up? Fines are coming. Maybe. Probably not
Time is up for many of those campaign signs you still see plastered along your commute.
While municipalities throughout New Jersey are perfectly fine with the signage on public property leading up to Election Day, they also want to make sure the signs aren't hanging around for the holidays and winter weather.
In New Brunswick, for example, temporary political signs need to be removed within seven days of an election, per city ordinance.
The cutoff is 14 days in Howell and Old Bridge. If two weeks come and go in Old Bridge, and the township has to handle the cleanup work, a $5 per-sign penalty can be imposed. Violators in Howell could face a minimum fine of $100.
Penalties are at a judge's discretion in Long Branch, where political signs must be removed no later than 10 days after an election.
Enforcement of these ordinances, however, may not always be a top priority for New Jersey towns.
In Middletown, where signs are expected to be removed from public property within five days of an election, officials generally get in touch with a campaign or individual before resorting to a penalty, according to a township spokesperson.
"I can not think of an actual story that I've heard of someone being fined for not taking down a sign," said Ben Dworkin, director of the Rowan Institute for Public Policy & Citizenship. "Generally, it's a request or a reminder."
While the signs remind residents of their civic responsibility to vote, once an election is over, Dworkin said, the signs are "like any piece of garbage."
"It's not about free speech anymore. It's just about being an eyesore," Dworkin said.
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Contact reporter Dino Flammia at firstname.lastname@example.org.