Disclaimer: Your humble editor occasionally co-hosts a podcast with Pat Race, the artist behind the election stickers, and can say that, yes, he’s a pretty cool guy.
If you’ve been anywhere near social media since Alaska’s early voting began last week, you’ll know all too well that the state has the very best election stickers for early voters.
They’re the creation of Juneau artist Pat Race, who worked teamed up with the Division of Elections to come up with the characters (four of which also appear on the front of the voter pamphlets) after some folks in the Division of Elections spotted the November art in his “A Calendar with Bears on it.”
Race said he was first contacted to work on new art for the Division of Elections’ voter information pamphlets that are printed for the different regions, but came up with more ideas than could make it on the covers.
“They wanted me to do four designs and that would be the cover for the voter pamphlet, and I came up with a ton of these little critters and almost everything I sent them they said, ‘Oh, we want that one, too. And we also want that one. And that one.'”
That’s where the idea for stickers became a reality. Eight of the animals—a beaver, a snowmachining walrus, a four wheeler-riding caribou, a dungeness crab, a crowned king crab, a rain jacketed eagle, a crow and a very hipster moose in plaid flannel—became stickers, but even then there were more ideas that didn’t make it to print (see more on that below).
The response has been absolutely phenomenal. Social media has been plastered with the charming critters, and the polling places are abuzz with the stickers (a mere mention of knowing Race can make you a minor celebrity).
“I’m excited about the reception and it’s kind of overwhelming,” Race said. “Every time I check into Facebook or Twitter I see another story about the stickers.”
He said he’s happy that he could have brought a bit of cheer and positive energy to a particularly divisive election cycle. He said he would like to see other states adopt a similar ideas and hopes that other artists could be featured in future Alaska elections.
Though the animal characters have spawned their own ardent followings, with Twitter hashtags like #teammoonlightbeaver or #teamhipstereagle, Race wouldn’t say if he has a particular favorite.
“I did take my post-election selfie and I did have a sticker on and it was the raven,” he said. “But you can extrapolate from that what you will. I think they’re all great and they all have personality and charm to them.”
For the record, your humble editor is #teamhipstermoose, but that also may have something to do with already getting a moose caricature of my own by Pat.
Strictly limited edition
We’ve heard some anecdotal stories about polling places running out of stickers early, so we asked about the chances for a second run.
“There is no plan to restock the stickers at this point,” wrote Samantha Miller, the spokeswoman for the Division of Elections. “We decided to offer them as a limited edition for early voters this year. Based on the reactions and popularity we’re seeing, we may do this again for future elections.”
As of today, 12,940 people have already voted through the early voting process and another 9,707 have returned by-mail ballots. Miller said on Friday that the daily average rate at this point is about 2,618, which far outpaces the last gubernatorial election year, 2014, when the daily average was 1,586.
Early voting runs right up to the day before the Nov. 6 election and is available at nearly 200 locations around the state. For a list of locations and hours, visit the Division of Elections’ website, but remember stickers are only available for a limited time. (Though you can now get prints of the eight animals via Alaska Robotics. Race also said he’s donating the first edition print of each animal to the League of Women Voters of Juneau for auction.)
Race shared with us the draft ideas that didn’t make it to the final sticker printing. The ideas were put to a vote at the Division of Elections, which put out a tweet about the selection process today.
Wanna know how we ended up with these cool characters for the Official Election Pamphlet and early vote stickers? Naturally, we held an internal election and voted on some early drafts by @alaskarobotics! We are thrilled with the end results! #akelect pic.twitter.com/gbbjve4iQK
— AK Division of Elections (@ak_elections) October 29, 2018
All images courtesy Pat Race.