- The Washington Times - Friday, August 18, 2006

The jumble of political-candidate signs now cluttering neighborhoods is frustrating voters, though many admit they are resigned to the minor annoyance of yet another election year.

“Political signs are all over the place,” said Marcus West, 23, a District resident. “I find it a little overwhelming. People get most of their information about the candidates on TV. The signs are too much.”

Candidates running for everything from register of wills to the U.S. Senate are leaving practically no telephone post, scrap of dirt or light pole untouched. A sign this week was even found wedged into the crack of a District sidewalk.

Prince George’s County yesterday reported 300 to 400 cases of illegally posted signs, which were removed without punishment to the campaigns.

“Most candidates are aware of the regulations,” said Susan Hubbard, a spokeswoman for the county’s Department of Public Works and Transportation. “But they sometimes have overzealous campaign workers who violate the system.”

In one extreme occurrence in the county, supporters of U.S. Rep. Albert R. Wynn and Democratic primary challenger Donna Edwards scuffled Wednesday night after a Wynn supporter reputedly removed an Edwards sign.

Though laws vary across the region and the country, most restrictions on signs focus on their size and distance to public rights of way.

Montgomery County reported few violations and is among the most strict, limiting candidates to just four signs in such rights of way.

“We have had very few violations this election period,” said Susan Scala-Demby, a manager in the county’s permit department. “What few issues there are have been quickly taken care of.”

Some counties have eased the enforcement of their regulations, which have been found to be impractical. One such rule in Arlington County required private-property owners to have a permit to post signs.

Political signs are “just a part of every proactive, involved community,” said Charles Garrison, 62, District resident.

Another voter had a different opinion.

“The signs are a little bit of an eyesore,” said Sean Werner, 29, of Montgomery County. “I don’t think they necessarily influence the way someone will vote.”

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