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Sticking Point: I Voted

by Countable | 11.8.17

Yesterday was Election Day across the country, which meant many ballots were cast and many "I Voted" stickers were stuck.

Did you wear yours as a badge of honor? Stick it to a suffragette’s grave? Or did you vote in Stamford, Connecticut, and receive no sticker at all?

I Sued

In 2004, a Stamford poll worker placed an "I Voted" sticker on the lapel of Robert Bonoff’s faux suede jacket. When Bonoff removed the sticker, the adhesive left behind a mark — so he filed suit against the city for the price of the jacket: $106.

"As a result," the local paper explained, “Stamford registrars halted the handing out of the stickers at the polls.”

For last year’s presidential election, Women on Watch (WoW), a local grassroots organization, raised the funds to purchase 50,000 stickers and distributed them at polling locations across Stamford.

"It was a lot of work and a lot of driving, but there was a lot of positive feedback," WoW member Maureen Gilfeather told the Stamford Advocate. She said the group was “fully expecting that if it went well, the registrar’s office would pick it up and do it again this year.”

Those expectations were not met. Despite WoW’s offer to raise the funds to pay for 1,000 stickers themselves, the registrar’s office was not receptive.

"We were told we could purchase the stickers and distribute them ourselves, but that the registrar’s office and its workers would not be involved," Gilfeather said.

In a letter to the Stamford Advocate, Gilfeather said the situation has left her baffled.

"All our neighboring cities and towns do this. Scholarly research has found that ‘I Voted’ stickers increase turnout and engender community pride. We are puzzled as to why Stamford’s registrars are so resistant to this small but meaningful acknowledgment of people exercising their franchise."

I Honored

Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren and New York State Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul cast their ballots yesterday, earned their "I Voted" stickers, then sojourned to Mount Hope Cemetery to place their stickers at the gravesite of suffragette leader Susan B. Anthony.

This year marks the centennial of women’s suffrage in New York State; in recent years, women have left flowers and thank yous at Anthony’s grave. It’s also become a tradition to place "I Voted" stickers on – and around – the suffragette’s tombstone.

Rochester Public Media outlet WXXI noted that while the gravesite wasn’t as hectic as last year’s election – which saw Hillary Clinton on the ballot – a few families made the pilgrimage this year, including Sarah Steele and her 2-year-old daughter Lilly.

"To think that just 100 years ago women were denied that right to vote is kind of heartbreaking," Steele said during her first Election Day trip to the site. "But I’m also super grateful to share that with my daughters and let them know that worldwide there are still lots of people who are discriminated [against] based on gender."

The City of Rochester asked voters not to place stickers directly on the tombstone to help preserve it. "But of course," WXXI wrote, “a few defied that recommendation. As that old saying goes, well-behaved women seldom make history.”

I Marched

In honor of the above-mentioned 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage in New York, voters in the Empire State received special "I Voted" stickers at the polls this year. Women were granted the right to vote in New York on November 6, 1917—three years before it expanded nationwide.

The unique "I Voted" sticker features Rosalie Jones holding a megaphone that blasts “I VOTED!” As NBC News explained, Jones was a “a suffragist who led a 150 mile-long march from New York City to Albany in December 1912 with a petition that earned the governor-elect's support for the movement.”

I Researched

When and where the stickers first appeared remains a bit of a mystery, though it’s almost unanimously agreed they entered Americans’ lapels in the early 1980s. The Phoenix Association of Realtors says they invented the "I Voted Today" sticker in 1985 and the National Campaign Supply claims they began selling the stickers a year later.

However, as Time Magazine reported, "an Oct. 29, 1982, Miami Herald article may contain the earliest mention of such a sticker, in a discussion of how small businesses in Fort Lauderdale were offering discounts to customers wearing ‘I Voted’ stickers" on Election Day.

Don’t want to wait until Election Day 2018 for your "I Voted" sticker? Head over to intab.net and buy your own anytime: a pack of 1,008 will cost you $7.95.

Oh, and if you’re wondering why we vote on a Tuesday in November, check out our video:

Did you wear your "I Voted" sticker as a badge of pride? Did the adhesive ruin your suede jacket? Did you nab one of the special suffragette stickers? And did you get any (technically illegal) freebies for displaying your sticker? Share your “I Voted” experiences below.

— Josh Herman

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(Photo Credit: FreeTransform / iStockphoto)

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