Election signs not allowed in road right of way

Hoping they would be noticed, local politicians have been busy putting their “Vote for me” signs up in the right-of-way near homes and road entrances. And it’s worked!

Unfortunately the County’s Auditor’s office received a complaint about illegally placed signs, and the matter was turned over to the Cook County Attorney’s office.

Acting Cook County Attorney Molly Hicken recently sent letters to the candidates telling them to remove signs that have been mistakenly placed in the right-of-way.

In an email to the paper, Hicken cited the county statute concerning where signs can—or cannot—be placed.

 “All candidates are required to abide by chapter 211B, Fair Campaign Practices, in general, and were provided with these statutes in the 2014 Campaign Manual distributed to candidates by the County Auditor.

“While other laws and rules may also may be applicable, two that people certainly need to know about as they relate to campaign signs are the Cook County Sign Ordinance (available at www.co.cook.mn.us under “Doing Business”) and Minnesota Statutes section 160.2715 (Right-of-Way Use, Misdemeanors).

Hicken said signs placed within the right of way for Highway 61 or within the right of way for any other public road or highway are placed in violation of the Cook County Sign Ordinance and Minnesota statutes.

Erecting or maintaining a sign in violation of county ordinance is a petty misdemeanor and violation of the state law is a misdemeanor.

“As far as avoiding the right-of-way for county roads, the county does not always clear trees all the way back to the edge of right-of-way. Recognizing that there is little point to a sign if it is not visible from the road, the county asks that, where trees and tall vegetation are not cleared back to the edge of the right-of-way, candidates place signs as far back as possible and at least behind the ditch.”

Some signs have also been placed on private property without the owner’s consent.

“Ask for permission before posting your sign, and make sure to remove signs within 10 days after the general election,” said Hicken.