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5 weird things you didn't know about the "I Voted" sticker

A woman in North Carolina wears an "I Voted" sticker
A woman in North Carolina wears an "I Voted" sticker
Sara D. Davis/Getty

In some states, after performing the patriotic duty of casting a voting ballot, citizens are rewarded for leaving their workplace, standing in a line, and pressing a few buttons with a small oval sticker that reads "I Voted Today!" or even just "I Voted!" The stickers, in many states, have become synonymous with Election Day and a cause for celebration themselves.

But not every state gets them, and they haven't always been around. Here are five strange facts about the "I Voted" sticker, in case you're still wearing yours with pride today.

1) Realtors invented the stickers

The Phoenix Association of Realtors claims that it invented the "I Voted Today" sticker in 1985. "People love them," Mark Schrer, vice president of government affairs for the Phoenix  Association of Realtors, said in a press release in 2008. He noted that the association has donated more than 20 million stickers to Arizona counties for Election Day.

Whether the stickers appeared at other voting booths before the 1985 elections in Phoenix is unknown, but for now the realtors have claimed it as their own.

2) The stickers probably evolved from campaign buttons


Collection of buttons: Wings For Willkie. (The New York Historical/Getty)

Wearing round displays of political engagement on clothing items is an American tradition! Political campaign buttons date back all the way to George Washington and are still around today. The first mass-produced metal buttons were printed for William McKinley's 1896 presidential campaign. Though buttons are still in use these days, they are expensive to make — much more expensive than stickers. Both presidential candidates in 2012 handed out stickers at some campaign stops.

The sticker is also better than a campaign button because it is not partisan. As Derek Thompson wrote for the Atlantic in 2012, the "I Voted" stickers can even do good by providing a form of social pressure that encourages others to vote.

3)The sticker's design evolved because people no longer voted with pencils

The original "I Voted" sticker that the realtors association produced had a square box above the words with a check mark in the box on a round sticker. The design that is now far more common was created by Janet Boudreau in 1987, after she took over a voting supply company.

Most polling stations had moved on from paper ballots requiring a check mark by 1987, Boudreau told the Contra Costa Times, so she created a design that she thought was timeless. "Rather than copy what was out there already, I wanted to improve it, make it more applicable to any voting system,"Boudreau told the Times. She even had her design, the oval with the American flag, copyrighted.

4) Ohio held an election to design its sticker

Many states have their own sticker designs for election day. In many states, there are stickers written in Spanish. In Tennessee on Tuesday, a campaigner handed out stickers with his name on it that were in the shape of Tennessee.  But no one loves the "I Voted Today" sticker as much as Ohio.

Maybe because Ohio is a battleground state its sticker love is bigger, but Ohio loves its sticker so much that it held an online election in 2011 to decide the new design. The stickers now read "I (shape of Ohio) Voting!" which makes no sense, but you do you, Ohio.

Ohio election officials told the Associated Press that more than 59,000 votes were cast for the design, both online and on paper ballots submitted by students. That's not a huge proportion of voters when you consider that Barack Obama won Ohio over Mitt Romney in 2012 by after 5,580,822 ballots were cast.

5) Chicago does not give out the stickers

I Voted stickers hand

Right on the line between civic engagement and just plain creepy. (James Edward-Bates/Biloxi Sun Herald/Getty)

Sadly, receiving a voting sticker is not a right of United States citizens. Counties can decide whether they provide stickers to their district based on myriad reasons. Some counties, such as Morris County, New Jersey, have even nixed the stickers due to budget cuts.

Chicago, for instance, refuses to hand out stickers. "We discontinued handing out 'I Voted' stickers in the city two decades ago," Chicago Board of Elections spokesperson Jim Allen told the Chicago Sun-Times. "You know why? Because fewer and fewer proprietors wanted to let us use their facilities as polling places because people would walk away and stick the sticker on the wall."

Vandalizing is certainly not in the Election Day spirit, so don't do that. But hopefully you did vote yesterday. Cool sticker or not.