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14-year-old Marbletown teen's "I Voted" sticker submission goes viral

Ashley Hupfl

A routine contest by the Ulster County Board of Elections to create a new “I voted” sticker design had some surprising results: the strangest design is running away with the vote.

14-year-old Hudson Rowan from Marbletown learned about the contest for Ulster County teens from his mom.

“When my mom told me about it, I said, ‘What should I draw, I don't really know what to draw?’ And she was like, ‘Do something like patriotic - red, white and blue.’ But, that's not totally my drawing style to have with the stars, the stripes and the eagles. And so, I didn't totally want to do what everyone else was going to do with the patriotic stars and stuff. So, I decided to do something completely different.”

And Rowan was correct. Five of the six contest submissions all have the same theme, featuring American flags, bald eagles and stars and stripes. The sixth is another story.

“I drew this head with kind of like a crazy, crazy hair on a gnarly energetic, funny head and then I didn't really know what to do with it. So, I kind of left it for a little bit and then came back and decided to sketch out some like leg-tentacle type things coming out. Then, I wanted to add some color. So, I just took a reel of colors and started adding random colors, to kind of give it a vibrant feel.”

It clearly connected with voters. The submission went viral on social media and as of Thursday, Rowan’s submission had racked up more than 36,000 votes. In comparison, the other submissions have below 600 votes, recalling previous social media campaigns like when voters mobilized to name a British research ship “Boaty McBoatface.”

Ulster County Board of Elections Commissioner Ashley Dittus says the contest continues throughout July. They will print the other five entries for the August elections and use Rowan’s design for the November general election. She says there is a viral TikTok post about the sticker and the BOE is thrilled to see people having fun with the contest.

Rowan, who’s excited to enter high school this fall as a ninth grader, says he loves dancing with friends and started skiing over the winter.

Rowan says he believes that because his design was so vibrant and different, it caught people’s eye. He also believes it tapped into the political zeitgeist.

“I think that kind of crazy chaotic, energetic feel kind of relates to the state of the world and how everything's kind of crazy right now. And I think how it's kind of like the mangled hair. I feel like it relates to how everything's kind of chaotic and confusing,. There's a lot happening in the world right now and is a lot happening in that picture. So, it kind of shows that.”

Rowan says he’s thankful for all the support he’s gotten and has enjoyed the comments he’s been receiving on Twitter. You can see his design and the other entries at wamc.org.