With election season rapidly approaching, political signs are already beginning to pop up around area lawns for the upcoming races.
Several area residents have asked The Gazette if there are any rules they need to abide by when placing signs within the city limits.
According to Kansas Statute 25-2711, “No city or county shall regulate or prohibit the placement of or the number of political signs on private property or the unpaved right-of-way for city streets or county roads on private property during the 45-day period prior to any election and the two-day period following any such election.”
“The City of Emporia doesn’t have any restrictions on the size of signage, either,” added Lyon County Election Officer Tammy Vopat. “Signs are not allowed in easements though, and people should have the permission of the land owner before placing any signs out. There are no special restrictions for businesses wishing to place signs, so that would be left up to the business owner.”
Typically, the only time local governments can intervene with the placing of such signs is if their placement would obstruct the regular, safe flow of traffic. Statute 25-2711 goes on to read, “Cities and counties may regulate the size and a set-back distance for the placement of signs so as not to impede sight lines or sight distance for safety reasons.”
Rules are different for state highways, as no campaign signs are allowed to be placed beside them whatsoever.
“By law, all right-of-way on state highways is to be used exclusively for public highway purposes,” reads a June 2018 press release from the Kansas Department of Transportation. “Only regulatory, guide signs and warning signs are allowed on the state highway system. KDOT has jurisdiction over all interstate, Kansas and U.S. routes on the state’s 9,500-mile system … When KDOT maintenance crews find political or business advertising on state right-of-way, the signs will be removed immediately without notice.”
Besides placing them in proper locations, Vopat encouraged residents to be aware that their political signs could be stolen or vandalized during this time of year. She said anyone with concerns should contact the non-emergency lines at either the Emporia Police Department or Lyon County Sheriff’s Office.
“Stuff like that happens, and it happens every election, unfortunately,” Vopat said. “Signs will get stolen, vandalized or even replaced at times, so I would hope people report such incidents if it happens to them. I’ve had hundreds of my own signs stolen, and you just kind of get around that by putting more out. They can be $5 a pop, though, so it can add up. It’s part of the game and the nature of the beast.”
Those with additional questions on the placement of political signs can contact the Lyon County Clerk’s office at 620-341-3245.