Planning a political campaign should not be complicated. If you follow a few simple sign regulations and the rest of South Carolina’s campaign laws, you’ll stay focused on your campaign strategy not paying fines or dealing with political fallout. South Carolina has clear rules on what is allowed and what isn’t with before, during and after the campaign. For example, you may not put your sign closer than 500 feet from the highway.
Also, remember that your sign is your responsibility. You need to remove your campaign yard signs within 48 hours of the election or the South Carolina Department of Transportation will remove it. Then, if you want it back, you will have to pay $1 for each square foot of the sign. If you don’t claim the sign, it will be discarded or even sold. Local laws may be a bit different from the state laws.
Aside from the ethical responsibility that you have to follow the law, as a candidate, you face political risks as well. Your political opponents and the media are always looking for something to discredit you. Don’t put it past them that they would pursue yard sign theft or other violations if they had the chance!
South Carolina Yard Sign Regulations
In South Carolina, it is illegal to place that obstructs the view of drivers to keep roadways safe. For the same reason, your sign should not hang on a tree or on rocks because it is unsafe for motorists.
Of course, it is illegal to vandalize or steal signs, but it still happens all of the time in South Carolina. If you don’t believe me, Google it! Violating a campaign sign is a misdemeanor and you could be fined up to $100, go to jail for 30 days, or both. It’s pretty hard to campaign from the klink!
You are not allowed to place campaign sign within five hundred feet from the nearest main traveled way. In rural places it is illegal to put up a sign within five hundred feet of an interchange or a rest area. Also, in rural places you are not allowed to place a sign within three hundred feet from on the same side of the highway. In municipalities, on the other hand, don’t post a sign less than one hundred feet apart on the same side of the highway.
Campaign signs may not exceed the maximum size of 672 square feet. You can use cutouts and other sign extension, but they will count towards your total square feet. That said, 672 is a pretty significant sign. Any sign that you would put on personal property won’t even come close.
Don’t forget to remove your sign within 48 hours after the elections. If you don’t do this, Department of Transportation will remove your sign and you will have to pay $1 for each square foot of the sign. If nobody comes to pick the campaign within ten days after the removal, it will be thrown away or sold.
Local Yard Sign Regulations
In South Carolina, there are state, county and municipal ordinances you need to follow in order to lawfully place a campaign sign. These ordinances usually involve regulations that apply to size and shape of your sign. There may also be some additional laws on how long you can keep your sign on public or private property. Contact your local municipal government or police department for more information on local ordinances.
Some localities have their ordinance or an overview of it online. Pickens County Registration and Elections Commission, for example, outlines their local rules here. The Municipal Association of South Carolina has an online directory that’s useful to find contact information for the municipal and county governments in the state.
Campaign signs are an important part of many political campaigns since they build candidate name recognition. It is important that people can see your name and the office that you are running for if you need to build name ID, but if you don’t follow the state and local laws, SCDOT will remove you signs before anyone gets a chance!
Remember that you cannot place a sign less than 500 feet from the nearest highway in urban and rural places. In municipalities it is not allowed to put up signs less than 100 feet on the same side of the highway. You need to remove your sign 48 hours after the elections or it will be removed. Signs will also be removed if it obstructs the view of the drivers driving by.
Disclaimer: I’m not an attorney nor do I play one on TV. This is not legal advice or opinion. It’s simply a collection of information that I have been able to gather from online and offline sources and have applied to political campaigns.