Campaign signs too close to polls, private property signs untouchable

SAVANNAH, GA (WSAV-TV) – Poll managers once again saw campaigns violating the signage rule at polling locations in Savannah. Campaign signs are not allowed closer than 150 feet from a voting location.

For the March runoff, however, the elections office had their hands tied with some signs. At the beginning of the day, campaigns were too close for comfort at one Savannah polling place on the city’s south side.

“Approximately 17 to 20 feet away, so they were a lot closer than the hundred and fifty foot legal allowance,” says poll watcher Ron Palefsky.

The “Roy Harris” and “Carl Gillard” signs stood just outside the Immanuel Baptist church polling location. They violated the one hundred and fifty foot rule and were removed.

“Within six feet of the violation sign is the sandwich board that all the polls have that say vote here,” Palefsky adds.

On Savannah’s west end voters saw signs right next to polling locations.These signs, however, poll managers cannot remove.

“If the people have a campaign sign on private property they’re allowed to have that, that’s their free speech rights,” says elections board chair Tom Mahoney III.

Neighborhood leaders are not happy. They’re seeing it as unfair action taken by campaigns.

“They were not here a week ago. So the closer they got to the election, I think these signs have been here like I said about three or four days,” says West Savannah neighborhood association president Ronald Williams.

Signs in support of Josey Sheppard, who’s running for the late Bob Byran’ts state house seat, are posted just a couple of feet from locations in Carver Village and West Savannah.

“I think what is behind me is a sight of desperation,” Williams adds.

It’s a sign Williams believes should be addressed with a primary and general election looming in the coming months.

“Maybe legislation should be passed that if a homeowner within a hundred and fifty feet of the voting poll, they need to have written permission from the homeowner in order to post a sign.”

If you do notice violators at polling locations or signs on rights-of-way you can call the elections office at (912) 201-4375.

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