PHOENIX - Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett has a message for candidates and campaigns: Clean up your mess.

"It's time to take the signs down," Bennett said Friday.

"Putting up signs during the campaign season is part of the election process," Bennett said at an afternoon press conference.

"It's kind of like apple pie and all of that," he continued. "But when dinner and dessert's over, it's time to put away the dishes."

Bennett said if the candidates and political committees don't comply, state law allows cities and counties to take matters into their own hands - literally.

State law says signs must disappear no later than 15 days after the election. That means Nov. 21.

At that point, the local government is supposed to notify the committee or candidate that put it up. And if the sign is not gone within 24 hours, municipal workers can take them down.

"We would hope that the campaigns would take care of their own signs so that the cities and towns and counties do not have to spend taxpayer resources to take those signs down," he said. "Maybe this weekend would be a good time," Bennett added.

Even if the signs are removed by government workers, all is not lost for those candidates who hope to run again: Arizona law says the local jurisdiction must keep any sign removed for at least 10 business days. And during that time it can be retrieved without penalty.

But Bennett said what happens beyond that, in terms of disposing of the signs or imposing fines, is up to each community.