SPOKANE, Wash. - By now, the post-election hangover is starting to fade. Most of the votes have been counted and the nasty campaign ads have made way for ads touting Christmas sales. But, there are - literally - still signs of the election all over Spokane County. It has many of you asking: when do campaign signs have to come down?
Campaign signs are an integral part of election season. Candidates spend millions of dollars to make sure you know their name on Election Day. But, after the election, they're just laying around looking sad, reminding us of the winners and losers. They sit in yards and near sidewalks, falling over and starting to rust. They're the signs of a well-fought election nearly a week in the books.
"I've traveled all over the country and Spokane County has gotta have the most signs per capita of any place," says Curt Fackler with the Spokane County Republicans.
So, now that the election is over, what happens to all those signs?
"If you're the winner, you're probably going to try to keep it, so you can use it for the next election year," says Fackler. "Especially trying to save the stakes and the re-bar. We have a storage place in town where we keep the stakes and rebar so candidates can use them next time."
New Washington State Senator Michael Baumgartner plans to re-use his signs. He said it was cathartic for him, the morning after the election, to put on a pair of jeans and drive around town to collect his signs. He said it's one of the few things he could control in a hard-fought race with Chris Marr. Baumgartner says his campaign spent well over $10,000 on campaign signs.
But, what about the rest of the signs? When will they start coming down?
"The city says you have to have them down by certification," explains Fackler. "The county is actually [controlled by the] State Department of Transportation - and, that's a 10 day rule. So outside the City of Spokane, it's a 10-day rule.")
So, the city gives candidates until November 23rd to clear out signs. If not? Campaigns face a fine.
"The city can charge 25 dollars per sign they pick up," says Fackler. "The city needs money, so maybe they'll be out picking the signs up!"
The city, though, says campaigns are more likely to get a letter than a fine. The state wants signs down by November 12th. If not, candidates face a misdemeanor charge! But, the DOT says no one has ever been charged with a crime for leaving a sign up too long.
So, bear with it just a little while longer. With any luck, the signs will soon be gone... or at least buried in a few feet of snow.