Election Day Is Whatever the Arlington Zoning Office Says It Is

Comments At Arlington County Board Meeting, September 18, 2021.

In April Arlington County Registrar Gretchen Reinemeyer announced a change to the schedule for placing candidate yard signs in the medians. She reported:

“We had a question posed to our zoning office recently about campaign signs going up 31 days before early voting started, rather than the election. Their position is that candidates and parties may put up signs thirty-one days before early voting, throughout early voting, and 5 days after Election Day. This understanding applies to the primary, the general, and any special election that may be held in the future.

“If you have any questions, let us know.”

I am concerned about this unilateral decision insofar as the Zoning Ordinance, §34.10.E.2 expressly limits sign placement to “Up to 31 consecutive days before an election or party nominating caucus.”

There is no dispensation for early voting. There is no authorization to extend the public spectacle of signs covering every inch of the medians on most of the major roads in the County for two months or more.

There was also little public notice of the change, as evidenced by the fact that all the Democrats’ signs put up on Washington Blvd. in Clarendon or about September 1 have been removed—evidently by the Clarendon BID itself.

Now I know that the Board is indifferent to violations of the sign ordinance as it pertains to independent candidates, but whole sale removal of Democratic Party signs—from Governor to School Board, should give it pause. Maybe County Board should instruct the Zoning Office that legislating by fiat is not the preferred way to change the sign ordinance.