Why Some Places Use 'I Voted' Wristbands Rather Than Stickers, and Some Use Nothing at All
If you voted today, chances are you got proof in the form of an "I voted" sticker, or some variation of that, depending on the language the sticker used. If you're a voter in Louisville, Ky., or Chicago, however, you might walk out of the polling place looking like you're leaving a night club, thanks to the cities' decisions to switch to bracelets rather than stickers.
While surfing around on social media this morning, looking at all of my friends posting pictures of their "I voted" stickers, I stumbled on a picture posted by one of my friends, who recently moved to Louisville. I noticed that, instead of the sticker hilariously and adorably placed on his dog as if he had voted, he hilariously and adorably placed the wristband on the dog. So, I did what any person in 2018 does when facing confusion: I hit Google.
It turns out, Jefferson County, Ky., did away with "I voted" stickers about two decades ago to minimize little pieces of paper being left on the street, but people still wanted some way to show everyone that they practiced their civic duty.
— Lennie Omalza (@LennieOmalza) November 6, 2018
(Full disclosure: That's not my friend's dog. Someone just had the same idea.)
For this year's election, Jefferson County is joining Chicago in the wristband giveaway. After residents complained about stickers ending up where they shouldn't and littering the streets, Chicago used music festivals as inspiration for the wristbands.
"The stickers ended up on windows and doors, and created a mess for custodians having to scrape them off with razor blades the day after Election Day," Jim Allen, a spokesman for the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners, told the Chicago Sun Times.
— Zach Schneider (@ZKM) March 20, 2018
Similarly to Louisville, when Chicago discontinued the stickers, people started complaining about the lack of souvenirs.
"People like to walk around with an emblem of their participation," Allen added.
After originally looking at more permanent solutions like pins, the city balked at the price tag.
"We were looking at more than $200,000 [for the pins], and we were like, 'No, that's not going to fly,'" Allen said.
That sticker shock (that's a great pun) caused other locations to stop their "I voted" sticker programs, too, with no replacement in sight. Voters on Long Island will likely head home from the polls empty-handed after officials decided not to spend taxpayer money on stickers.
"If a nonprofit wants to give the board stickers, I will help distribute them, but we're not about to spend $20,000 in taxpayer money to distribute adhesive participation trophies," Nick LaLota, Suffolk County elections commissioner, told Newsday.
In an article about the history of the stickers (which is actually pretty interesting) former Ramsey County, Minn., elections manager Joe Mansky said that then-Minnesota Secretary of State Joan Growe heard about other places using stickers as souvenirs, and Mansky thought it sounded dumb.
"I thought to myself, I think this is the craziest idea I've ever heard," he told CBS Minnesota. "Who wants to walk around with one of these dumb stickers, but when my boss tells me to do something I do it."
It turns out a lot of people want them. And dogs do, too.