The hottest accessory of the moment is the “I Voted” sticker — ranked high up on the list with chic face masks and fashion-forward voting merch. Add in a bottle of hand sanitizer and toilet paper, and you have yourself the perfect 2020 starter kit.
But back to the stickers, the most important of these items, considering we’re still waiting for the results of the 2020 presidential election. After hitting the polls or submitting your mail-in ballot, we’re willing to bet that you snapped a selfie for social media wearing your “I Voted” sticker. After all, doing so is basically an unwritten rule during the election season, as demonstrated by approximately every single Instagram user.
Celebrating the sticker has always been popular, but this year was extra important, as the nation’s future hangs in the balance. We’re battling a global pandemic, fighting for racial equality, trying to protect women’s rights — and the list goes on. To make sure that everyone’s voice was heard, celebs and normal people alike used their stickers as a tool to nudge their followers to vote.
The History Behind the Sticker
The patriotic stickers date back to the 1980s, but the origin is actually quite complicated. According to Bustle, the Phoenix Realtors Association (PRA) says they produced the first stickers in 1985.
But what’s curious is that in 1982, a Miami Herald article informed readers that wearing “I Voted” stickers could grant them discounts from local businesses. George H. W. Bush was reportedly the first president to wear the sticker after voting in the 1984 election in Houston, Texas.
That said, there were likely many variations of the original sticker, including — but not limited to — the PRA sticker and another dreamed up by a woman named Janet Boudreau in 1987. At the time, Boudreau was president of the election supply company, Intab. By 1988, the stickers were available in all 50 states, and today, millions are purchased from the company.
Boudreau is one of the masterminds behind the narrow, oval-shaped sticker that’s still produced today. It says “I Voted” in navy blue font, with an American flag swaying in the wind on the left. According to the North Carolina-based company’s website, you can purchase 1,000 of the stickers for $6.95.
No matter who was responsible for the first renditions of the sticker, there’s no doubt that they all had the same mission at heart. Quite simply, it’s to get people excited about fulfilling their civic duty. “I wanted them to see people with an ‘I Voted’ sticker and think, ‘Oh, I should do that,” Boudreau told Time Magazine in 2016.
These days, the stickers look different from state-to-state. Arizona’s sticker features cacti, and Colorado’s sticker has a mountain. Some cities even hold competitions where residents can enter their sticker design to potentially become *the* Election Day sticker.
“It’s really a treat to have created something that has struck a chord with people,” Boudreau told Valley Public Radio in 2018. “I hope that people will continue to wear it with pride.”