Teenager’s ‘I Voted’ Sticker Strikes a Rage, and Now Everyone Wants One: NPR

Would winning this sticker motivate you to vote?

Hudson Rowan

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Hudson Rowan

Teenager's 'I Voted' Sticker Strikes a Rage, and Now Everyone Wants One: NPR

Would winning this sticker motivate you to vote?

Hudson Rowan

Hudson Rowan never really considered himself an artist, but he’s now seriously reconsidering that after the attention he’s received this month.

The 14-year-old’s breakthrough piece?

“He’s got bulging eyes, mangled hair, staring into the distance…crazy spider robot legs sticking out the sides,” he said. “It gives a sort of chaotic vibe.”

Why Did Hudson draw this? His mother asked him if he wanted to enter the “I voted” sticker contest in Ulster County, New York. And this spider-robot-humanoid is what he thought voters would want to show off to show they had done their civic duty.

Ulster County Board of Elections Commissioner Ashley Dittus was devastated.

“I will never forget when I saw it,” she said. “I immediately smiled and had to show it to other people. I just couldn’t keep it to myself.”

Dittus said most of the submissions she’s seen since the contest started last year have included red, white and blue; or maybe images of mountains to represent their county in the Catskills. But she’s never seen anything like it before.

Dittus said that after Rowan’s design became a finalist, it went viral on social media. And he has the votes on the county website to show it.

The county has just 180,000 residents and 125,000 voters – but Rowan’s submission received more than 225,000 votes. That’s 94% of the total.

On Friday, Rowan was officially declared the winner of the competition. So Ulster County residents can pick up their sticker on November Election Day (as well as vote, of course.)

Looking ahead, Dittus has high hopes for Rowan’s works.

“It’s definitely gone beyond Ulster County, but it’s great because the more people that are researching and exploring the vote…not just New York State residents, but everywhere, it’s is how we make democracy thrive,” she said.

Dittus has received many calls about this sticker, even from people asking to buy products with Rowan’s creature on it.

“It strikes a chord. It makes people on both sides of the aisle feel like, yeah, that’s what voting is all about,” she said. “This is what our participation in democracy will look like in 2022.”

Rowan has heard similar renditions from his growing following online.

“It’s all really very chaotic,” he said. “And everything that’s going on in the world right now, I feel like this image kind of represents it…all the COVID stuff, then the ongoing wars, then gun violence and politics.”

Rowan may not have intended to capture the state of the world in his “I Voted” sticker design, but he’s thrilled that it’s sparking conversations about an institution he considers essential.

“Everyone has to vote,” Rowan said. “What if people stopped voting, thinking their vote didn’t matter…then yeah, that’s bad.”

Hudson Rowan: artist, philosopher and patriot.


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