SULLIVAN COUNTY, Tenn. - Many of you are probably getting tired of seeing election signs every time you turn the corner, but when do those signs have to be picked up?
The days after an election are spent figuring out where candidates placed their campaign signs and collecting them, but some signs are left laying in the grass; others are never picked-up. "Some people started on Tuesday night right after we got the results in. I've even heard of some of the candidates that were up Tuesday night until 1:30 or 3:00 in the morning," says Cheryl Russell.
Cheryl Russell won the Sullivan County Commission seat for the second district. On Thursday she was out finding and picking up her campaign signs. "You go out, you look on the road, and as you pass by one you either get a little one or make a note to go back and get the big ones later," she said.
Russell tells us she doesn't have any Democratic or independent candidates running against her, so she doesn't have to campaign in August.
Sullivan County Election Administrator Jason Booher tells us that means Russell's signs have to be collected within 10 days after the election. "Those that lost or are not on the ballot in August, they will need to have those signs removed," he said.
Booher says if candidates are up for the general election in August, their signs can stay out. "Most will move them or take them up until sometime later in June and move them back out," he said.
Booher says if signs aren't taken up within 10 days, the highway department will usually collect them. But what happens to those signs that aren't claimed? "I've seen signs be used for target practice, whether it be archery or guns. I've actually seen the larger signs used for buildings, for walls, for roofs. People find a lot of creative things to do with yard signs," he said.
Booher tells us there is really no penalty for signs that aren't picked up; it's more of a guideline.
Regardless, Cheryl Russell says if you plan to run for any office again, the signs are too valuable to leave unclaimed. "It's an investment, it really is an investment. Planning ahead for the future and making sure you get those back [is important]," she said.
Booher tells us the signs at schools or polling places have to be collected no later than 5:00 p.m. the day after the election.
We also checked with Bristol, Virginia; they tell us there really are no guidelines for picking up signs, but they ask candidates to have them picked up by the day after an election.