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If you think political signage has been sprouting earlier than usual on medians across Arlington, you’d be right.
The reason? It’s due to how county zoning staff are interpreting the government’s sign ordinance.
That ordinance allows political signs to appear in medians of county-owned roadways 31 days prior to the start of every election. In this case, with the election taking place Nov. 2, that would be the start of October.
County zoning staff, however, have chosen to interpret the rules as 31 days from the start of early voting, which in Virginia this year begins Sept.
17. Under that interpretation, signage on medians would have been legal beginning in mid-August, even though theu only started appearing in early September, when the Arlington County Democratic Committee began planting placards in support of its ticket.
It sounds as if the county’s elections/voting office has received some complaints about the earlier-than-usual arrival of what some deride as visual clutter. At the Sept. 9 Electoral Board meeting, county elections chief Gretchen Reinemeyer noted it was the zoning department that makes the decision on the timing, but that if people have an opinion, “we’d be happy to send your comments to the zoning office.”
Technically, there is no campaign signage allowed on roadways owned by the Virginia Department of Transportation, which include a number of major thoroughfares in Arlington.
There are no restrictions on the timing of placement of such signs on private property – some local residents keep campaign signs up 12 months a year.