[Image via chicago tribune]
electionline’s Mindy Moretti has a great story in the latest electionlineWeekly about how Chicago’s election office is putting a new twist on an old favorite at the polls:
Following a move to Chicago, Whitney May was excited to vote in her first election there. Having worked in elections in North Carolina and D.C., she was eager to see how the process in the Windy City worked.
Sadly, that excitement soon turned to disappointment when after casting her ballot, instead of receiving a much loved “I Voted” sticker she simply got a paper receipt confirming that she had cast her ballot.
“As a previous election administrator, I get why they made their decision,” May said. “But, if I’m being totally honest, I was a bit jealous in Chicago because people from suburban Cook County got great stickers and they were wearing them around the city and posting pics on social media. It was awkward.”
About a decade ago, Chicago stopped handing out “I Voted” stickers because it was the same story election after election in Chicago. People exercised their right to vote, eagerly accepted their “I Voted” stickers and then proceeded to stick those stickers on anything but their shirt or jacket.
They stuck stickers to water fountains, to windows, to doors, to door frames. Pretty much anywhere they could, they left their stickers.
Custodians at polling places spent hours after each election scraping off the stickers until finally they had had enough and so the city got rid of the much-loved civic sticker.
“It doesn’t have to happen often to be a nuisance, and you have to resolve any concerns that might cause building owners to second-guess whether it’s worth hosting a polling place,” said James P. Allen, communications director for the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners.
But this year, just like the Chicago Cubs are bringing hope the residents to the Windy City, the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners is returning joy to voters by providing not stickers, but “I Voted” wrist bands.
President Barack Obama rocks one of the new “I Voted! Did you?” wrist bands after voting early in Chicago.
“[In] more recent elections, we began receiving scattered, but more frequent complaints from voters who wanted a sticker instead of the paper receipt we handed out,” Allen explained.
Allen said the city started exploring options and Tyvek wristbands with the words “I Voted! Did You?” seemed like the best compromise — and one that might be more likely to be in selfies that go viral.
If you’ve been to any sort of large-scale event lately where there is a mix of people under and over 21, you’re probably familiar with the Tyvek wristband. Even some hospitals have switched to these type of bands for patients.
In addition to “I Voted! Did you?”, the wrist bands also feature the Board’s logo. The slogan is also printed—in smaller point size—in Spanish, Chinese and Hindi, the three languages required in Chicago by Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act.
The bands cost the city about $19,000 or 1.9 cents each for the million they ordered.
A very unscientific poll of elections officials finds that Chicago’s sticky situation seemed to be a uniquely Chicago problem.
“We have not had any significant or widespread issues with “I Voted!” stickers being viewed as a nuisance,” said Dean Logan, registrar-recorder/county clerk for Los Angeles. “They are very popular and heavily desired by our voters.”
While appreciative of Chicago’s resourcefulness, none of the other elections officials we spoke with anticipate making a move from stickers to wrist bands.
“We have not considered alternates to the stickers such as wrist bands; although we are planning to offer an election day Snapchat filter and virtual sticker for social media posts,” Logan said. “I admire the effort to identify additional ways to demonstrate pride in voting and encourage others to participate.”
Poll workers will hand out the wrist bands to voters during early voting and on Election Day and then voters can stick them wherever they want…just hopefully not anywhere that the janitors have to deal with them.
“We hand the wrist bands to the voters, and they’re free to put them on their wrists, work bags, purses, belt loop, whatever they want,” Allen said.
Allen said so far the feedback has been positive and even President Barack Obama rocked one after early voting last week.
May, who also serves as a poll worker in Chicago is excited about the new way to show her civic pride.
“I can’t wait to get my “I voted” bracelet! I think we see the popularity of “I voted” stickers across the country, even for mail voters, because we’re proud of voting and we want to encourage others to join us,” May said. “The “I voted” bracelets are just another example of election officials delighting their community and helping to get out the vote. Let’s hope the bracelets get to stick around!”
Louisiana is sticking with I Voted stickers
Louisiana is sticking with “I Voted” stickers this election season, but are a bit blue about it. Not because they are sad, but because the new stickers will feature George Rodrigue’s iconic Blue Dog.
“We were looking for a way to make this Presidential Election unique and exciting for Louisiana voters,” Secretary of State Tom Schedler told KATC. “We traditionally have robust turnout when we elect the President, but I’m hoping this sticker will put us over the top in terms of turnout. I have a feeling everyone is going to want to show their patriotism and pride by proudly wearing this nationally-famous Louisiana artist’s ‘I VOTED’ sticker.”
The George Rodrigue Foundation of the Arts (GRFA) granted the state permission to use the painting entitled Standing Up Straight and Tall (2001) for the sticker artwork. The original artwork is part of the permanent collection of the New Orleans Museum of Art.
“Participating in the election process and electing good government representation is one of our most important civic duties. Partnering with Secretary Schedler to inspire citizens to take part in this election cycle is something that spoke to me and I think my dad would have loved,” said Jacques Rodrigue, George Rodrigue’s son and executive director of GRFA.
It’s great to see election offices recognize the power of stickers, wristbands or other small tokens to voters. Most voters don’t turn out just for the sticker, but it doesn’t hurt – and it becomes another way for voters to encourage their friends and neighbors to participate as well. Thanks to Mindy for sharing this story …
25 days until Election Day – stay tuned …