It's election day in the US as the country goes to the polls for the mid-terms. But whatever the political results, there's already a clear winner when it comes to design. Voters in one New York county are going crazy for an unusual 'I voted' sticker that's become a viral sensation.
The work of 14-year-old Hudson Rowan, the gaudy psychedelic design won Ulster County's annual 'I voted' sticker competition and has since become a prized political accessory. The stickers are being rationed carefully by "flabbergasted" voting staff, but Rowan's now launched a full range of merchandise (for inspiration for your own designs, see our character design tips).
For the last two years, Ulster County has been holding a competition inviting local young people to design its 'I voted' badges, which are given out to those who do complete their civic duty by heading to the polls. The badges often feature patriotic motifs or local symbolism, such as state or county landmarks. But this year's winner was a little different.
Rowan's design is devoid of stars and stripes or patriotic red and blue. Instead, it features a manic demon creature with six bright blue legs and a human(ish) head with multicoloured teeth and bloodshot eyes. And the terrifying design has caused such a sensation that Democratic commissioner Ashley Dittus turned up for early voting dressed up in a zombie spider costume for Halloween, while New Paltz Village deputy mayor Alex Wojcik has had the design tattooed on her arm.
Happy Halloween 🗳 pic.twitter.com/LPtJwEJZUVOctober 31, 2022
"I voted, I voted forever." 📸 @CarbieThe 🎨 @ojeazz Original art obviously by none other than Ulster County’s own Hudson Rowan! Thanks to @AshleyDittus for being a great BOE Commish! pic.twitter.com/hhODaCim6TOctober 22, 2022
Dittus said the sticker design had left election staff "flabbergasted". However, it proved a massive hit with the public, walking away with 93 per cent of the vote in the competition. Rowan's design picked up 228,200 votes, well over the entire population count of Ulster County. Election authorities have had 90,000 stickers printed and are reportedly having to ration their distribution – some polling staff reported that voters were getting "very upset" when stickers run out.
I love that they had to explain what happened to people at the polling place who might not know about it pic.twitter.com/Aa3uz9H7cVNovember 3, 2022
As for the design's inspiration, Rowan told Hudson Valley One (opens in new tab) back in July that he had drawn on “spider-robots” that he used to paint when he was younger. “I started sketching out different designs and styles until it all came together,” he said, adding that “It’s been so nice to get so much positive support from people." He now has a website (opens in new tab) selling merchandise.
Rowan's triumph is a testament both to the power of viral social media trends and the success that sometimes be achieved by breaking the rules and doing something completely different and unexpected, even if it might be considered ugly by conventional standards. In this case, it might just get a few more people to vote today.
Dittus said: “We have heard from people all over the country and beyond, from the UK to Australia, who have seen and loved our contest and want to get a sticker. It is my sincere hope that our contest, and the attention it has put onto voting will inspire other election administrators to not just do their own sticker contest, but to engage with the younger people in their communities.”