Political signs posted outside of the Burnet County Courthouse South Annex, 801 Steve Hawkins Parkway in Marble Falls, in March. Polling will move next door to the Texas Tech University at Highland Lakes campus for the Nov. 8 election. University officials indicated to county commissioners that they would like to sign a Memorandum of Understanding adopting an ordinance up for consideration Aug. 23 that would limit the number and size of campaign signs erected 24 hours before and after polls open and close. Staff photo by Suzanne Freeman
Campaign signs at polling places during the March primaries were “out of control,” leading the Burnet County Commissioners Court to consider a set of rules to limit their number and size.
Commissioners on Aug. 9 reviewed an ordinance on political candidate signs at polling locations owned or leased by the county. They will vote on it during their next regular meeting on Aug. 23.
“We need to have some sort of reasonable guidelines in place to allow candidates to have their names out there but limit it,” said Burnet County Judge James Oakley. “It has gotten out of control when a candidate comes up and completely placards the grounds with six, eight, 10 four-by-eight-foot signs.”
Oakley counted 12 signs with T-posts hammered into the ground at polling places on March 1, one of which broke a county water line.
The rules are simple and forbid large signs that require T-posts:
Signs can be no larger than 18 inches by 24 inches in size, which is 3 square-feet.
Each candidate is allowed only two signs per polling place.
The earliest signs can be erected at a polling site is 24 hours before polls open. They must be removed no later than 24 hours after polls close.
Signs must be ground-mounted with a normal, heavy, wire rod-type stake as used for an average yard sign.
No illumination is allowed.
Signs cannot be located within 10 feet of a public right of way and must be placed within the landscaped exterior area of the property. In other words, signs cannot cause a safety or traffic hazard and cannot block access to the polling location.
Signs cannot be placed closer than 100 feet of an outside door used by voters to come in or out of the polling place.
Any damage caused by a sign is the responsibility of the campaign that placed it there.
Signs violating these rules will be removed without notice, the ordinance continues. The authority to remove and regulate the ordinance goes to the county’s maintenance department. Polling site property owners other than the county can sign a Memorandum of Understanding to adopt the same rules.
“There were no rules before this,” Oakley said. “Now I’m not going to be out there with a stop watch or a measuring stick. The gist of it is, a couple of signs should be plenty.”
The county placed no restrictions on people holding signs at a polling place beyond what already exists in state statute, which says campaign activity cannot be conducted within 100 feet of a polling entrance or exit.
An action item pertaining to campaign sign regulations will be on the agenda for the Aug. 23 meeting, which begins at 9 a.m. in the second-floor courtroom of the Burnet County Courthouse, 220 S. Pierce St. in Burnet.