Viral 'I Voted' sticker could increase election turnout in Ulster County - Upsmag - Magazine News

Viral ‘I Voted’ sticker could increase election turnout in Ulster County


When voters in Ulster County, NY, head to the polls in November, they’ll walk away with an “I Voted” sticker that looks a little different.

Instead of the traditional themes of red-white-and-blue, stars and stripes and eagles, this sticker will feature a multicolored, discombobulated human head set atop six turquoise legs resembling that of a spider (or crab) — next to the message, “I Voted.”

It was designed by a local teen who isn’t even old enough to vote.

Hudson Rowan, 14, is the clear front-runner in a contest organized by the Ulster County Board of Elections to design the sticker that will be given to county residents who vote in the November general election, after his unusual design went viral, generating buzz that local election officials believe will lead to more voter turnout in the county .

“This sticker is going to increase turnout,” John P. Quigley, the Republican election commissioner for Ulster County, said with confidence — or at least, “we think it will,” added Ashley Dittus, the Democratic commissioner.

As for the artist, Rowan says: “I did not expect it to take off the way it did at all.”

The sticker — which he describes as a “colorful human head on, I guess, spider legs?” — is similar to the “kind of crazy, chaotic” drawings that Rowan, who is from Marbletown, NY, about 100 miles north of New York City, says he has been doing for years.

The contest is part of the Ulster County Board of Elections’s outreach program to young voters. All 13-to-18-year-olds in the county were invited to submit a sticker design, and anyone could vote on their favorite of six finalists until the end of July.

The 14-year-old’s design has captivated the internet, generating TikToks and news coverage — and every time, more votes for the humanoid-spider-crab. As of this writing, Rowan’s sticker had more than 159,700 votes out of nearly 171,000 total votes. Ulster County in its entirety has a population of about 180,000.

“It took me, like, 10 minutes to draw it,” Rowan told The Post. “It was a quick … little sketch, and then I submitted it. And a couple days later, my mom was like ‘Hudson, your thing has like a couple thousand votes.’ And I was just freaking out, ’cause I didn’t know how that happened and how so many people voted.”

On Reddit, one user wrote sarcastically of the sticker, “I can’t imagine a better metaphor for the current state of US politics.”

“We all laugh, but this sticker alone might unironically increase voter turnout in Ulster County,” another wrote on Twitter.

Dittus and Quigley, the Democratic and Republican election commissioners for Ulster County, hoped for a reaction like this when they picked Rowan’s design as a finalist — but were blown away when it came.

“John and I are sort of different from your typical election commissioners in New York state,” Dittus told The Post in an interview.

“If you combine both of our ages, we’re probably about the average age of a standard election commissioner. I’m 36, John just turned 30. So we know how the internet works. And our office is relatively young, too. And we all kind of thought this could happen. Did we think it would? No.”

“We had a bit of a hunch that it was going to take off,” Quigley added.

Since the contest went live, the Ulster County commissioners have been flooded with emails from people in different states wanting a sticker, and counties across the country wanting to learn from their efforts to get young people engaged in the electoral process.

Dittus always tells them the same thing. “It doesn’t take a lot of time, and anybody could do it. And if this gets replicated because of what we did, then I would be so proud of us for inspiring people to engage with … a part of their community that usually doesn’t get as much attention as they might need.”

Voting for the contest will close July 29. If Rowan’s sticker wins, he’ll receive an award from the Ulster County Legislature. All the finalists who don’t win will receive school supplies — and the chance to have their stickers handed out at an upcoming primary and special election in late August, when the 19th Congressional Districtof which Ulster County is part, is set to elect a new congressperson and New York state senator.

Boosting voter turnout wasn’t Rowan’s goal when he designed the sticker, but he says he’s glad of the attention it has received. “I’m super glad I’m inspiring people to … take the time to vote to get my sticker,” said the teen, who will attend Rondout Valley High School next year.

Imagining people “walking around with my art on them — it’s crazy,” he says.

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