The trendy “I Voted” sticker is a symbol of pride that people usually show off on Election Day as a way to say, “Look, I was responsible in fulfilling my civic duty as an American.” I too have been guilty of this, slapping the NYC subway-themed sticker onto a folder I use at work. Then there are some who take it a step further; they pose with it in a selfie and post it on social media. It’s the same positive-reinforcement mentality as when a kid gets a lollipop after a doctor’s visit or a student receives a gold star on a test. But how did these stickers originate?
According to TIME, the iconic “I Voted” decal made its debut in the early 1980s in the hopes that people would see others wearing it and be reminded to vote. However, this sticker does more than act as a reminder — it creates a sense of community. Since voting is a solitary act, seeing others wear the sticker makes everyone feel part of the same effort. In fact, research has proven that people may be more likely to act if they know someone else might notice, according to economists at Harvard University.
Yet, with the current political climate, is it still safe to wear the “I Voted” sticker? It’s not uncommon for people to feud over political views, so will the classic “I Voted” sticker only fuel more of this combative energy? If you refrain from discussing politics, the sticker will serve its original purpose and create a sense of community. After all, sporting the sticker has little to do with whom you voted for; instead, it’s an emblem to show others that you made the effort to vote and that they should do the same.