Arlington voting-sticker contest

It took four rounds of instant-runoff (ranked-choice) balloting, but “Shout It from the Skyline,” a design by John Musco, above left, narrowly defeated “Voting, the Language of Arlington’s Diversity,” designed by Anna Radjou, to become Arlington’s first local “I Voted” sticker. Radjou’s submission will not go to waste; it will be offered to those who vote absentee.

Perhaps it was a message from above that, indeed, every vote does count.

By a very slim margin – 0.18 percent – an image of Arlington’s commercial horizon was selected as the first locally produced “I Voted” sticker of the Arlington elections office.

“Shout It from the Skyline,” a submission by county resident John Musco, was chosen in public voting from among five finalists. The results of the inaugural competition were presented May 21 to County Board members.

The finalists had been selected from 32 submissions by a panel that included members of the Arlington Artists Alliance. Voting for the winner was conducted online and drew 1,084 responses.

The sticker with Musco’s design will be handed out to voters who cast their ballots in the November general election and ensuing elections.

For years, Arlington has handed out more generic “I Voted” decals, which are seen on shirts across the county on Election Day.

“Most voters love the stickers,” Electoral Board chairman Charlene Bickford said.

She suggested going to a local design could engender more love, and thanked those who submitted ideas for “their creativeness and enthusiasm for this contest.”

Election officials used a “ranked-choice voting system” in which the lowest-vote-getting designs were successively eliminated and the votes of those who supported them reallocated until one design reached the 50-percent threshold.

It took four rounds to determine a winner, and for the first three of them, “Skyline” had run second to “Voting, the Language of Arlington’s Diversity.” But in the fifth round, with the three other options eliminated, “Skyline” ended up with 543 votes, or 50.09 percent, to 541 votes, or 49.91 percent, for “Diversity.”

But do not feel sad for oh-so-close “Diversity” (submitted by Anna Radjou): Election officials have designated that design as the official “I Voted” sticker for those who request absentee ballots. (Those who vote absentee in person starting this fall will get their choice between the two.)

Another design, submitted by elementary-school student Mira Shomali, will be adapted and used as “Future Voter” stickers that will be provided to children who accompany their parents to vote.

Artists were given a few directives when preparing submissions: Their work needed to include the words “Arlington” and “I Voted,” and the design had to fit on a round, 2-inch template. Beyond that, those submitting items were encouraged to let their imaginations run wild.

The selected designs most likely will remain in place until 2023, when a new competition will be held. Arlington election officials chose 2019 (and 2023) because they are off-year elections and the stickers might help boost interest.

Arlington election officials borrowed the idea for the sticker contest from New York City. But if the concept rings a bell, it should: For many years, the county treasurer’s office held a student-artwork competition to select the design of the annual personal-property-tax decal for vehicles. That ended when the County Board abolished the decal this year.

Unlike the vehicle-decal competition, where design submissions were limited to Arlington high-school students, the “I Voted” sticker competition was open to all county residents. Sixteen different designers submitted the 32 concepts; five finalists emanated from different people.

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