20150128_083900 Seems that just before every election, political signs get defaced, removed or destroyed – and that’s just what happened overnight Tuesday (Jan. 27), as numerous anti-school bond signs were tampered with, mostly in an area between Des Moines and Normandy Park. One sign was defaced with hand-written expletives apparently aimed at Sensible Spending on Schools (SSOS), the organization that opposes the bond: 20150128_112343 Kathleen Waters says that a total of 11 signs were tampered with, four stolen, two defaced, and five obscured with other signs including this “copycat.” 20150128_083511 “I can’t say how disappointed I am to see any voter abuse the system that we should cherish every day of our lives – a democracy – with freedom and liberty for each of us AND our children,” Waters said. “What kind of message is sent to the kids we ALL care about with this kind of abuse of the voting privilege we all share?” Obviously, this kind of activity is illegal. According to Sgt. Bryan Howard of the Burien Police Department, this kind of tampering is considered a misdemeanor, and violates city law 29A.84.040, which states:

“Political advertising, removing or defacing. A person who removes or defaces lawfully placed political advertising including yard signs or billboards without authorization is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable to the same extent as a misdemeanor that is punishable under RCW 9A.20.021. The defacement or removal of each item constitutes a separate violation.”
Des Moines Police would also enforce the same state law (RCW) that Burien does, Sgt. Doug Jenkins of DMPD told us. “Anytime there is a political issue or candidate that generates significant interest one way or another we frequently hear reports about political signs that have been damaged or removed,” Jenkins told The B-Town Blog. “Actually being able to arrest someone for damaging or removing a political sign is extremely difficult.  Rarely is there a witness to the crime.  We would encourage anyone that sees anyone tampering with or damaging a political sign to get a good description of the suspect, the exact location where it is occurring and call 911 or the non-emergency line for your local police department.” We contacted Catherine Carbone-Rogers, Communications Director for Highline Public Schools, who said: “Highline Public Schools absolutely does not condone removing or defacing political signs under any circumstances. We call on all citizens to participate in the political process respectfully and lawfully.” We also received this statement from Lois Schipper, Chair of Highline Citizens for Schools:
“It has come to our attention that political signs for the opposition have been damaged or stolen. We want to be very clear: Highline Citizens for Schools does not, under any circumstances, condone or encourage this behavior. It is against the law and detracts from our primarily focus, which is to run an honest and ethical campaign that supports all of our students. We also want to be clear that we do not know the individual or individuals that have damaged or stolen the signs. While we recognize many of our own signs have been removed, it’s important our supporters don’t damage or remove our opposition’s signs. We value the political process and want to ensure its integrity.”