The Herald/Review reached out to the Cochise County elections director to answer your questions about political signs.
“They are a big part of elections and branding,” Cochise County director of elections Lisa Marra said. “Political signs have been around for a really long time, so a lot of it is tradition.”
The closer it gets to the elections, the more signs go up.
“It’s also important for voters to get to know more about who candidates are,” she said. “So many people get to the polls and don’t know who to vote for.”
Because of the monsoons in Arizona, Marra advises politicians to “periodically go to check them because the wind and the storms definitely take a toll on them.”
State laws restrict the size of political signs depending on the area they are placed in. If located in a residential area, the size limit is 16-square feet, however the maximum in any other location is 32-square feet. Marra said “there could be limitations that differ based on city codes” as well.
There is not a limitation for how many signs are allowed in one location that is specified by state law or regulated in the county, Marra said.
These signs can be placed in “a public right of way, as long as it’s not unsafe, and private and commercial property,” she said.
A blue stake is required, but is not regulated by the county. For more information, Arizona 811, formerly Arizona Blue Stake, Inc., provides guidance and resources for anyone installing political signs.
“Stay safe and avoid damages by installing signs at least 2 feet (24 inches) from the paint, flags or other marks you see on the ground,” according to the Arizona 811 website.
Disclosure statements are “only required if the candidate has a campaign committee,” Marra said. The size of the disclosures differs depending on the item, however billboard or sign disclaimers must be 4% of the vertical height.
However, judicial candidates uphold different regulations and standards which can be found on the Arizona Courts website.
A judicial candidate cannot “publicly endorse another candidate for public office “by having that candidate’s name on the same ticket” or make “comments that might impair the fairness of pending or impending judicial proceedings,” according to the Model Code of Judicial Conduct: Canon 4.
The code advises candidates to consider if they are jeopardizing judicial integrity when making campaign decisions.
All signs should have a phone number on the back to allow residents to report complaints, according to Marra. If the sign is in the ADOT right of way, residents can contact ADOT, and if it is in city limits, the director of elections encourages residents to contact the city clerk.
“We do not regulate campaign signage on private roads or right of ways or in those roadways that are not county maintained,” she said.
Signs can go up 60 days prior to an election and it is a class 2 misdemeanor to knowingly damage signs. Within 15 days after an election, signs must be taken down, Marra said, “unless you win in the primary election and advance to the general election,” in which case those signs can remain up for 15 days after the general election.
She said residents should not remove or take political signs to keep as souvenirs.
“If you want a particular candidate’s sign, reach out to them,” according to Marra. “We see this more often than actual vandalism or theft.”
Marra can be contacted for any further questions at LMarra@cochise.az.gov.