STICKER SHOCK: NYCBOE Ditches Subway “I Voted” Sticker for New Skyline Design

[Images via nyccfb, patch]

There was a huge upset in yesterday’s New York City primary as the Board of Elections retired the subway-themed “I Voted” sticker in favor of a new one featuring the Big Apple skyline. The Patch has more:

The subway-themed sticker that civic-minded New Yorkers wore as a badge of honor has gone the way of the hanging chad.

Voters in the five boroughs have worn stickers emblazoned with the words “I voted” and five colored lines arranged to look like a subway map since the 2017 primary elections. But the city’s Board of Elections quietly replaced that sticker with a new design featuring the city’s skyline for Tuesday’s primary.

The change is part of the agency’s ongoing effort to rebrand itself and engage with voters before early voting starts in the city this fall, board Executive Director Michael Ryan said.

“This was just no more, no less than the Board of Elections making its best efforts to communicate with our voters as effectively as we can,” Ryan said in a phone interview.

NYCBOE views the new stickers as part of its effort to establish its “brand” with city voters:

The new sticker is consistent with the design of the board’s existing marketing materials, Ryan said. For instance, the V in the word “voted” looks like a check mark, similar to the logo that appears on the board’s website.

The board has also created stickers that read “I’m a future voter” for kids who accompany their parents to the polling place. Those and the standard stickers cost about $80,000 to print, Ryan said. The board has also created designs for people who register and those who will vote early in October, he said.

“All of that is designed to sear into the consciousness of the voters the Board of Elections branding so that when we communicate with the voter by mail or by social media, it’s all going to be consistent,” Ryan said.

The subway stickers were originally designed by the city’s campaign finance agency, who provided them to NYCBOE for use on Election Day and publicly mourned their disappearance yesterday:

But the end of the subway-themed design was bemoaned by the city’s Campaign Finance Board, which had helped distribute stickers since 2013. The board sent out a press release Tuesday morning saying it “mourns the demise” of the sticker it first rolled out fewer than two years ago.

The agency chose the subway design in 2017 through a public competition that yielded more than 700 entries and drew more than 10,000 votes. Voters — including some famous ones — had taken to it, and The Daily Beast praised it last year for communicating “an unadulterated patriotism and old-school levity not usually seen in this vitriolic political era.”

The Campaign Finance Board is offering free enamel pins with the old design to any voters still enamored with it.

While he declined to discuss his agency’s communications with the Board of Elections about the stickers, Campaign Finance Board spokesperson Matt Sollars noted that the previous design was the result of a public process.

“I think that was important,” Sollars said.

The NYCBOE’s director is unmoved and insists that pride in the act of voting outweighs any specific design:

But Ryan said the agency was only able to slap its stickers on voters because the Board “politely agreed” to distribute them in 2013.

To Ryan, the design isn’t as important to voters as the expression of pride that they cast their ballot. “The rest of it is all distraction and quite silly if you ask me,” he said.

“It’s been well received and quite frankly it’s the process that’s important,” Ryan said. “It’s not the sticker or who made the sticker.”

One could argue that NYC’s subway design launched the current era of community-specific (and often community-designed) I Voted stickers for use at the polls. I wonder if more agencies like NYCBOE will seek to reclaim their brand through their own stickers – and if so, how they will be received. For now, lots of people (including me) will be sad to the old sticker go. Stay tuned …

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