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Rules for Political Signs

Post Date:09/17/2019 1:49 PM

Political signs will be going up around the community this week in advance of the Nov. 5 local election.

For information on the offices up for election, schedules and voting, visit the Orange County Board of Elections at

Residents in the Durham County portion of Chapel Hill can access more information at the Durham County Board of Elections at

The public is reminded that anyone who know knowingly removes, alters, or defaces a campaign sign is guilty of a crime. It is a misdemeanor for a person to steal, deface, vandalize, or unlawfully remove a political sign that is lawfully placed. 

A combination of state law and municipal code regulate how political signs may be displayed within Chapel Hill. For detailed information, including a list of State Rights of Way within the Town, please go to the following site:

State Law (Applicable to state right of way)

State Statute 136-32  regulates political signs on State owned roads. This law permits campaign signs in the right of way of the State highway system. Signs are permitted during the period beginning on the 30th day before the beginning date of "one-stop" early voting and ending the tenth day after the primary or election day. Early voting this year begins Oct. 16, so signs may go up on Sept. 17.  

State law (applicable to state right of way) requires that signs be placed no less than three feet from the edge of the pavement of the road or more than 42 inches above the edge of the pavement. No signs may obscure motorist visibility at an intersection or be larger than 864 square inches. Also, no sign shall obscure or replace another sign. No campaign sign should exceed six square feet in area or 42 inches in height.


Local Regulations (Applicable to private property and public streets other than state right of way)

Chapel Hill’s Land Use Management Ordinance (Sec. 5.14.3(h)) regulates how political signs may be displayed within Chapel Hill. It covers town-maintained streets and private property.

Temporary political signs advertising candidates or issues meeting the criteria below are exempt from regulation:

Signs should not be larger than four square feet in area per display surface. Signs placed on private property should be removed within seven days after the election. Signs in the town-maintained public right-of-way should not be erected prior to 45 days before the election (Sept. 17).

Signs should not compromise traffic safety by obstructing the view of traffic signals or signs. Do not use words or symbols that could be confused with traffic directional or regulatory signs.

All political signs in the town-maintained public right-of-way must be removed within 12 days after the election.

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