ULSTER COUNTY, N.Y. — The “I Voted” sticker might look quite different and unique at one county in New York state polls in November.

After filling out their ballots on Nov. 8, voters in Ulster County will walk out with a sticker designed by the winner of a student contest. The contest is open through July and the leader, by far, is nothing like the traditional “I Voted” sticker.

Featuring what looks like a human head on a spider’s body, Hudson Rowan’s design had garnered more than 164,000 votes — 93% of the total — as of Tuesday afternoon. That’s a higher vote count than Ulster saw for the June primaries.

“It’s a head with legs with colors,” Hudson said, adding it has a “vibrant, psychedelic, happy, crazy theme.”

“I decided to do something different,” Hudson said about veering away from the traditional patriotic style of voting stickers.

“Well I definitely thought it was unique,” John Quigley, the Republican commissioner for the Ulster County Board of Elections, which is running the contest, said about Hudson’s entry. “Somebody tweeted, this is how voters feel about politics right now, and I thought it was almost like the best way to summarize it. It sort of is exactly how we all feel about politics right now.”

“It’s gone a little viral,” said Ashley Dittus, Democratic commissioner for Board of Elections. “Hudson’s design has struck a chord with people, at least online, and we are really having a good time watching all those people from Ulster County, and all over the place, engage with our website, engage with our contest.”

Hudson, a 14-year-old from Marbletown, is one of six finalists. The other students are from Marbletown, New Paltz, Gardiner and the town of Rochester.

This is the second year for the contest, which has skyrocketed in interest thanks in large part to Hudson’s design. Last year’s winner had about 500 votes, Dittus said.

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Hudson said the interest the design has garnered came as a happy surprise.

“I did not think I was going to get as much attention as I did,” Hudson said. “I thought since mine was very different from the others, I didn’t think mine was going to get a lot of attention because of that, but I was wrong. It was exactly the opposite.’

Though Hudson’s design has a significant lead, “it’s a long month,” Dittus said. “You never know what will happen, but Hudson’s definitely off to a strong lead.”

Hudson is not “super deep in politics,” but saw an opportunity to showcase art with the sticker contest. Using the digital program Procreate and Apple Pen, Hudson was able to build the design off “the little sketch of the head. It seemed kind of plain, seemed boring. So I decided to make it not boring by adding the legs, and then took the color wheel and put a whole bunch of color to it to make it more vibrant and to catch the eye.”

The contest was open to students throughout Ulster County between the ages of 13 and 18. School districts received contest information in April, with designs due in mid-June, Dittus said.

More than a dozen designs were submitted, she said, some hand drawn and others composed with computer graphics. The Board of Elections staff makes sure different school districts are represented, then whittles the submissions to six finalists.

“We lay them all out on a conference room table and everybody in the office takes turns picking out their top three, and whoever gets the most votes in the office is then who we put out for the public vote,” Dittus said.

Finalists receive certificates, school supplies and other items, Dittus said, and the winner also receives an award from the Ulster County Legislature.

“We’re getting a kick out of it,” Dittus said of the interest in the contest. “We’re just excited to make people smile when they vote, because there’s a lot off stress out there, at least what we hear on election days, so we hope that this makes people smile on their way out the door.”

 

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