If you miss those little oval stickers featuring a flag and the words “I voted” that were once a major part of Election Day fashion, fear not: Folks can still pick them up at several county elections headquarters in the region.
“People love to get them,” said Mason County Auditor Karen Herr.
The stickers, which can be viewed as a symbol of civic pride and a guilt trip for nonvoters, are strictly a county choice, said David Ammons, communications director of the Office of the Secretary of State. Some counties’ elections offices mail them to voters, and some don’t.
Thurston, Mason, Lewis and Pierce county elections offices offer the stickers, and officials say you can pick up one — or a few, after your coworkers hear you’re going on a mission — at their front counter even if you’ve already mailed or dropped your ballot in a box.
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“It’s tradition,” said Heather Boyer, an elections specialist for the Lewis County Auditor’s Office, noting that the stickers seem to be especially popular with older voters.
Over the weekend, elections workers around the state report receiving 775,666 ballots — or about 18.3 percent — of the nearly 4.24 million ballots issued, Ammons said.
“If people know who they’re going to vote for, they can go ahead and vote their ballot and get it in the drop box early,” said Thurston County Auditor Mary Hall. “We no longer have an election day. We have an election season.”
Monday was the deadline for people to register in person to participate in the Nov. 8 general election.
Washington celebrated its 4 millionth registered voter in April. As of Monday, the latest count was 4,267,804 active voters in the state, Ammons said.
Hall said she once priced putting “I voted” stickers with voters pamphlets, and it would have added about 5 cents to each mailing.
“It’s pretty expensive for something that doesn’t really have anything to do with conducting elections, if you will,” she said.
Instead, she encourages people to download a version of an “I voted” badge that can be posted on social media. Hall’s office carries the traditional “I voted” sticker for people who drop off their ballot at the elections center.
“We also just got a new sticker that’s a little larger, probably two and a half inches by one and a half, and says, ‘I voted, have you?’ ” Hall said. “I think people seem to like the new one. It’s a little larger.”
Electronic or sticky, old school or new style, Ammons said he understands why people want what he describes as “that immediate attaboy” for voting.
“With many people, it’s a very nostalgic feeling,” he said. “It’s kind of a holdover of when we had poll sites.”
When Washington became the second state to adopt an all vote-by-mail system in 2011, the poll sites — and the stickers, for the most part — went by the wayside, along with other traditions.
“The little ladies with the tray of cookies were there, and they would point you to the right place to cast your ballot,” Ammons recalls. “And then they gave you that sticker. … It was a civic ceremony, and I think we all loved that part of it.”
In addition to downloadable electronic badges, another modern-day version of the “I voted” sticker appears to be posting a selfie with a ballot on social media, Ammons said.
“We had a lot of questions on our Twitter account on the legalities of that,” he said, after performer Justin Timberlake posted a selfie of himself voting. “We are one (state) that does not ban it.”
Whether it’s a sticker or a selfie, the point is that people are voting and they’re telling people about it. Some people go as far as to post pictures of their political picks.
“We kind of wish people wouldn’t,” Ammons said. “It does sort of undermine the notion of a secret ballot.”
However, it’s legal, he said. Voters should just be aware that it will likely cause a stir on social media. But perhaps controversy is the point of a ballot selfie.
“People are getting more and more open about their advocacy, and I think the younger generation is more transparent with their favorites,” Ammons said. “That’s why I think the selfies are a demonstration of that.”
Last week, Stephanie Blose, 28, of Lacey, proudly stuck an “I voted” sticker on her sweater at the Thurston County Elections Center.
She said she believes it’s a symbol of American pride. She said some countries don’t allow women to vote, so she feels it’s important to wear a sticker and celebrate the activity.
“It’s just important that you vote, period, regardless of who you vote for,” Blose said. “Especially with my husband being in the service, it’s your way of honoring the people that died so you have this right. We just think it’s a silly sticker, but it’s not.”
Need a sticker or information about voting? Here’s where you can go:
▪ Thurston County Elections Voter Services, 2000 Lakeridge Drive SW, Building 1, Room 118, Olympia. Information: thurstonvotes.orgor 360-786-5408.
▪ Pierce County Voting Center locations, including Elections Center, 2501 S. 35th St. Suite C, Tacoma. Information: piercecountyauditor.orgor call 253-798-7430.
▪ Mason County Ballot Drop Boxes, including 411 N. Fifth St., Shelton. Information: co.mason.wa.usand click on auditor’s office, or call 360-427-9670 ext. 470.
▪ Lewis County Auditor’s Office, 351 NW North St., Chehalis. Information: lewiscountywa.gov/auditoror call 360-740-1278.