In North Carolina, Voters Help Choose Design for Voting Stickers

The contest aims to engage voters and give residents a chance to express their creativity.

The contest aims to engage voters and give residents a chance to express their creativity. Shutterstock


Connecting state and local government leaders

A design contest in Durham County attracted 30 submissions for a new "I Voted" sticker.

Three months ahead of the general election, officials in Durham County, North Carolina are offering voters the chance to cast a ballot in a different type of contest—a competition to select a new design for the coveted “I Voted” sticker distributed at the polls.

The Durham County Board of Elections launched the contest earlier this summer, soliciting potential sticker designs from members of the public. Submissions had to fit in a 2-inch circle, and were not limited to people residing in Durham. The goal of the contest, presented in conjunction with the city of Durham, is to promote voter engagement while giving the area’s residents a chance to express themselves, according to Derek Bowens, the county’s elections director.

“Durham is a melting-pot community and it’s an artsy community, so we think this type of contest is very responsive to the individuals living here,” he said. “We have a lot of unique things—the bull is a motif for Durham, some of our buildings are recognizable, and both the city and the county have distinctive colors. I think it’s a great way to express that uniqueness of people and culture. And as corny as it might sound, those stickers are important to voters.”

Officials received a total of 30 design submissions from 22 people, among them students and professional graphic designers. Multiple entries incorporated the bull, a nod to the city of Durham’s “Bull City” moniker, while others included the seven stars on the city’s flag. Some are less Durham-centric, including one submission that reads, simply, “I Voted. Did You?”

Durham County Board of Elections

Members of the public can vote for their favorite design through Aug. 31. In a nod to voter engagement, the online survey requires that users give their names and email addresses and indicate whether they’d be willing to serve as paid precinct officials on Election Day, and displays election and voter registration information upon completion of the form.

The top three submissions will be presented to the Board of Elections at its Sept. 13 meeting. The winning design, selected by board members, will be printed on stickers and distributed at polling places during early voting (Wednesday, Oct. 17 through Saturday, Nov. 3) and on Election Day (Tuesday, Nov. 6).

It’s the first time Durham has held such a contest, though other municipalities—including New York City—have chosen sticker designs from similar competitions. The winning sticker will stay in circulation in Durham for the foreseeable future, but another contest is possible down the road, Bowens said. And of course, the only way to get one of the new stickers for yourself is to head to the polls in November and cast a ballot.

“Nov. 6, 2018 is Election Day,” Bowens said. “Come on out and vote, and get yourself a sticker when you get done.”

Kate Elizabeth Queram is a Staff Correspondent for Government Executive’s Route Fifty and is based in Washington, D.C.

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