By Amanda Zoch
My earliest memory of Election Day is tagging along with my mom to vote at a local church. I was maybe 7 years old, and my patience, while she filled out her ballot, was rewarded with my very own “I Voted” sticker.
I didn’t actually vote, of course, but I treasured that little civic emblem and proudly stuck it to the side of my dresser when we got home. (I can’t imagine my mom liked that last part.)
I’m not alone—voters love “I Voted” stickers. Although their exact origins remain mysterious, the stickers have become an inextricable part of voting. And with social media, that’s truer than ever—the stickers are eminently Instagrammable. Even the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC)—which rewards election officials for innovation and leadership, among other things—has created an annual competition for the Most Creative and Original "I Voted" Stickers.
So, today, amid the election prognostications and public hand-wringing, I encourage you to take a moment to enjoy the beauty and creativity displayed on proud voters’ shirts, hats and even masks across the country.
Site-specific “I Voted” stickers are one of this year’s highlights. Georgia voters who use the mega-voting site at the State Farm Arena in Atlanta will receive a variation on the state’s usual peachy design—with a peach-shaped basketball and “Home of the Atlanta Hawks” emblazoned across the top. Dodger Stadium, Fenway Park and other sports venues provided voters with custom stickers as well.
Not into sports? The lucky voters casting their ballots at the Hollywood Pantages Theatre in Los Angeles received limited edition "Hamilton" “I Voted” stickers.
“I Voted” stickers have also become an opportunity for collaborations with local artists. For Alaska’s 2018 election, Juneau-based artist Pat Race designed an a-moose-ing collection featuring iconic Alaskan wildlife. For 2020, the Division of Elections worked with artist Barbara Lavallee to create stickers celebrating the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage and the diversity of Alaskan women.
Idaho’s sticker also honors women’s suffrage. The Idaho Association of County Recorders and Clerks organized a competition to select the new image. Even though Samantha Robson isn’t old enough to vote, it’s her winning design that will be handed out to voters at polling places all across the state.
And that sticker my younger self loved so much? It’s from Minnesota. The sticker isn’t likely to win any awards from the EAC—its no-fuss design is enshrined in statute—but the classic look gets the message across: I voted, and you should too.
Want more? CNN has a roundup of each state’s “I Voted” stickers, and New York magazine asked 48 artists to design their own stickers for Election Day—see their designs here.
Amanda Zoch is a Mellon/ACLS Public Fellow and policy specialist in NCSL's Elections & Redistricting Program.