Campaign signs scattered throughout Williamsburg County have been disappearing and some candidates have voiced their concern about it.
You see them everywhere: 24 by 24 inch corrugated signs perched at street corners and bordering yards. The signs, of course are political campaign advertisements and as the June 12, election draws near you can bet the farm the number of signs will increase. That is if the current ones don't end up missing in action (MIA).
Political signs are almost a precondition when running for election. Candidates rely on the tiny but vivid displays to maximize their exposure while imprinting their name in the minds of those who read them.
However, the political proclamations are dwindling and their disappearance has many questioning the integrity of the culprit(s) who might be swiping them. "We should have more integrity than that," said Sharon Staggers. Staggers is running against Lucinda Greene in the Williamsburg County Clerk of Court race. "Even though it’s a campaign or a race we should be fair to one another and no one should touch someone else's sign...A sign is not going to get you elected."
And campaign signs don't come cheap. The price varies depending on how many are ordered but 100 two-color plastic signs can range between $4 and $5 per sign. Many candidates have seen dozens of signs disappear but when others who claim to be missing 100 and in one case, 400 signs, the problem is obviously a serious one.
Stealing signs is also a crime. Vandalizing (or removing a political campaign signs without permission of the candidate) is a misdemeanor and a person found guilty could spend up to 30 days in jail and be fined up to $100. The topic was brought up at a recent democratic meeting. At that meeting, Williamsburg County Sheriff Michael Johnson mentioned the Williamsburg County Sheriff's Office had received several complaints regarding missing or scattered signage. "I don't believe there are any candidates themselves that are doing it," said Sheriff Johnson. "The reality is someone in support of the candidate and that’s their way of expressing they are not supporting an opponent. But what they may not realize its a criminal offense."
However, if you see a sign down and feel the urge to be a Good Samaritan and put it back, it’s best to leave well enough alone. "If you see signs that are down you might want to help and put them back up. Don't," said Johnson. "You don't want to get caught putting it up, and someone sees you doing that then they may accuse you of removing a sign." Johnson said the best thing to do is to notify the candidate. "If they give you permission, at least there was a conversation between the two of you."