Yes, I voted today in Canada’s federal election. You know this because, well, I’m telling you. I also Tweeted about it, and posted it on Facebook. So what’s missing?
An “I voted” sticker, that’s what.
When I showed up at my polling place in Metro Vancouver this morning I was pretty excited. As a Canadian citizen by birth who spent every election in my adult life living in the United States, today was my first time voting in Canada. I nervously presented my voter information card, went to my assigned table, and explained to the workers that I was a total newb at this. They got me set up, I penciled my “x” in the circle, dropped my ballot in the box, and then I walked out the door. No sticker. Nothing to press onto my shirt or jacket to show my pride.
As it turns out, I’m not alone in my sadness:
No sticker for voting? Pfffttt how will people know that I voted now without seeing the accomplished look on my face? #elxn42
— Miss E (@gigglingOT) October 19, 2015
PSA to everyone: go vote today!! PSA to election people: for next year pls give me a sticker after I vote thanks!! #elxn42
— Lisa D’Ascanio (@lisadascanio) October 19, 2015
— Bri Cook (@Bri_Cook) October 19, 2015
Sure, getting a sticker as a “reward” for doing your civic duty is a little childish. Obviously, the true reward for voting is getting to participate in a democratic process and living in a free society, but would it have hurt Elections Canada to have dug into the coffers to print up some rolls of stickers for Canada’s constituents?
The thing about getting an “I voted” sticker, and wearing it, is that it creates a tremendous sense of community. It’s one of the few non-partisan ways to declare your participation in politics, and it also gives you an immediate bond with your fellow sticker-wearers on public transit, in line for coffee, out at lunch, or at the bar watching the returns in the evening.
Having spent several years in the States as a non-voting non-citizen, I had serious sticker envy on election day. As an outsider, it was easy to see how the sticker was a badge of honour and a way to show pride in civic engagement. Since I couldn’t collect any of the “perks” of the “I voted” sticker, either, like a free cup of Starbucks coffee or a Krispy Kreme donut, I was the first to point out those little rewards are actually illegal in the U.S. (These “incentives” are illegal in Canada, too.) No treats, no sticker, no voting, no pride.
Here in British Columbia, “I voted” stickers have been handed out for municipal and provincial elections, so we aren’t strangers to the sticker and its shiny, cutesy allure. In the social media era, we’ve come to expect plenty of photographic evidence of the “I voted” sticker some Election Day: Voters pose for sticker selfies, plaster their sticker onto the side of their Tim Hortons cup (how much more Canadian can you get?), or add the sticker to a permanent collection, and share the image for the world to see, taking the “I voted” pride well beyond the scope of where you happen to put your voting body during the day. That community spreads from the polling place to the workplace to across the country.
So, let the record show: I voted! It was awesome, and I’m really proud. But I think I’m going to have to DIY myself a sticker with a Sharpie and Post-It. This no “I voted” sticker thing is BS.