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Removing Electoral Detritus

— An election is a flurry of dreams dashed or realized. While the spirit of the season is passed, the litter of political yards signs remains. And it will remain until somebody complains and the signs get removed and tossed in the trash… hopefully by conscientious campaign workers.

Some campaign signs along a public right of way in San Diego.
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Above: Some campaign signs along a public right of way in San Diego.

Complaints about campaign trash arise during and after every election. The tricky thing about dealing with unwanted political signs is nobody seems to know what the rules are. Either that, or the rules simply get ignored.

I spoke with more than one San Diego political operative and they all seemed very mixed up about the rules for yard signs. In fact, those rules change from one jurisdiction to the next. Deborah Seiler, the San Diego County Registrar of Voters, couldn’t give me any broad parameters for what’s allowed, though she did give me some numbers to call.

Some people told me you had to take down political signs in San Diego within 30 days following an election. But I couldn’t find that requirement in the city’s code for political signs.

The city rules clearly say that signs cannot be placed on public property or on public rights of way. But just because that’s the law, it doesn’t mean anyone follows the law or that authorities take the time to enforce it. Any motorist will tell you that busy streets are lined with political signs around election time.

Political signs will always get left behind. The rules neglected. But I see those signs as an emblem of the fall season, sort of like the leaves that fall from the trees and scatter on the ground. In a way they are a sign of death. But their life will be renewed when the spring of another election season comes our way.

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Avatar for user 'Greg Duch'

Greg Duch | November 6, 2010 at 3:05 p.m. ― 6 years, 4 months ago

I'll firmly state that as far as voter registration goes, I'm in the "decline to state" category. I'd prefer the more descriptive label "independent", but no such category exists on California voter registrations. I guess I can live with such ambiguity.
As an independent er, "decline-to-state" voter, I get inundated with more election material via the US mail than is rationally warranted. In the week immediately prior to the election, I counted at least twelve pieces of campaign literature arriving by mail each day.--- AND the size of the materials is in many cases approaching the size of a campaign poster. What is lacking in substance, is evidently compensated for by sheer size. Is there a way to opt out of such --dare I call it- junk mail?

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Avatar for user 'Greg Duch'

Greg Duch | November 8, 2010 at 7:29 p.m. ― 6 years, 4 months ago

Tom: I'd add in the telephonic detritis as well. I have about ten or eleven robo-calls which my answering machine picked up in my absence. I have the distinct honor of hearing a "personal" messages from city council candidates as well as congressional and gubernatorial candidates, whenever i press "play".
I've thought of creating a remixed tape recording of "The Greatest Hits Album of Campaign Robo-Calls of 2010". Certainly, on those long, cold, dark, snowy,? winter nights, I can replay those "personal" calls from Meg, Jerrry, Jerry's wife, Bob et al and reminisce about 2010.

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Avatar for user 'Eddieboy'

Eddieboy | November 13, 2010 at 11:58 p.m. ― 6 years, 4 months ago

Maybe the candidates themselves need to go out and clean up their own garbage. In some cases, that might be the extent of the valuable public service they have to offer.

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