For nearly three decades, Brad Toler, a member of the Baileysville Sportsman Club, has waged a crusade against illegally posted campaign signs.
The Clear Fork resident is again reminding candidates in the upcoming primary election that campaign signs posted on West Virginia Division of Highways’ right-of-way is illegal.
That right-of-way can extend up to 20 feet from the center highway line, depending on the locations, he said.
Toler has made it his business to remove signs that are posted illegally or to retrieve those left behind after the election is completed.
The laws not only apply to candidate signs, but to businesses and others posted illegally, Toler emphasized.
He believes the signs are eyesores and considers them litter when posted illegally; so does the state of West Virginia.
This year, the secretary of state’s office is also providing candidates with a copy of the state code covering the placement of such signs, Toler said.
In years past, he has returned illegally posted signs to the candidate. That has changed in recent years, however.
Toler said the candidates should know by now it is illegal to post the campaign signs on the side of the road.
He returned one candidate’s signs a few years ago, only to have the candidate replace them in the same spots.
Toler said he went back once again and gathered the signs, but did not return them to the owner a second time.
While Toler believes candidates are more mindful of the laws now, he said he has already spotted illegally posted signs this year.
Some candidates have accused Toler of breaking the law when he removes their signs. However, when the signs are posted illegally, he said, they are considered roadside litter according to state law.
Based on state law, campaign signs are not permitted on DOH right-of-way, including road shoulders, traffic signs, trees, rocks, fence posts or utility poles.
Signs cannot be placed within 500 feet of a church, school, cemetery, public park, public playground, or voting polls, Toler explained.
Additionally, overhead banners are not permitted across roadways.
Those placed on private property require the permission of the land owner.
Also, Toler said, land companies do not give candidates permission to post the campaign signs on their property; he has checked.
Violators can be fined a daily fine per sign, Toler said. Violators can also be held responsible for the cost of removing the signs.