Campaign sign controls should win approval
A bill to limit the size and number of political signs has been cleared by lawmakers.
VOTERS will have to endure just one more election season blemished by a proliferation of huge signs
promoting political candidates if a bill gets final approval from lawmakers and Gov. Linda Lingle.
The measure strikes a reasonable balance between free speech rights and a call to curb the visual blight and distractions of campaign banners and should withstand legal challenges.
The legislation limits the size of signs on a single residential property to no more than 4 by 2 feet with a total area for all signs of 16 square feet. In addition, the tenant or owner of the property cannot be paid to put up a sign.
Previous attempts to place restrictions on campaign placards were deemed unconstitutional, but in response to public complaints and the Outdoor Circle, an organization that has successfully kept the state free of billboards, lawmakers have sought curbs on the political advertising that clutter fences and roadways and even brought safety concerns.
The bill has no time restrictions for displaying signs, but for the 2006 elections, the Outdoor Circle had asked that candidates voluntarily post signs within sensible limits and remove them within 10 days after an election. A similar effort would help in keeping down the visual pollution this fall.
This year's elections will see voters choosing a new president. Also being contested are seats for the Big Island and Honolulu mayors and councils, the state Board of Education and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, among others. So many races will be sure to generate a great many signs, but the bill won't be effective until next year.
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