Marbletown student’s sticker design gets national coverage

Votey McVoteface


A viral story has emerged from the Ulster County Board of Elections this July and is getting worldwide attention. Major news outlets like The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Guardian are covering this odd submission in the 2nd annual Ulster Votes - I Voted Sticker Contest. As of this writing, the submission by Hudson Rowan has 181,300 votes out of a total of 193,900 votes. Current vote tallies for all six of the finalists' submissions are pictured above. The polls close at 5 p.m. Friday, June 29. 

Hudson Rowan, a 14-year-old from Marbletown who is looking forward to going into high school next year, submitted the viral sticker design on April 20 and was the first person to do so. Hudson is looking to apply to the Rhode Island School of Design as the next step in his education after high school. Hudson said that he “hopes I can encourage people to go out and vote” with his sticker. Hudson also said that he is "trying to get back to as many people as he can" to respond to the media attention around his design and that he "can't believe how much support he has had."

One of the participants who submitted a more traditional “I Voted” sticker design, Shafil Sabbir, was surprised that the contest went viral. He said that the contest is a “learning process that's more about the journey than where you actually end up going.” Shafil drew inspiration for his design from the colors of Ulster County. Shafil is not yet a U.S. citizen, however, he is taking his oath soon. Currently, Shafil is planning on attending SUNY New Paltz and majoring in electrical engineering, and taking some photo and art-based classes.

Rick Wiley, who helped the Ulster County Board of Elections set up the website for the community to vote on these stickers, said, “Traffic is coming from all over the world, the website is getting international attention.” There were 14 total submissions, and the six finalists for favorite design were decided through an internal ranked-choice election. This year's vote total is much larger than the 1st annual “I Voted” sticker contest, which only had around 1,500 votes, according to Rick Wiley.  

Currently, it looks as if Hudson's design will be the winner, however, any design among the six finalists that has over 1,500 votes will have their sticker printed for the Aug. 23 elections.

Republican Election Commissioner John Quigley said, “Anyone interested in working as an election inspector might just be the lucky person to hand out these awesome stickers this year!” Democratic Commissioner Ashley Dittus said that her “First reaction to the sticker was to smile.”

However, there are others, like Rick Wiley, whose first reaction to this sticker and the viral response is understandable skepticism. 

Wiley said that he felt the sticker was “out of left field,” but his opinion turned around and changed to appreciate it as much as his more traditional view of an “I Voted” sticker. Wiley said in response to this contest going viral that he had to make sure that this “was legit” and that his “first instinct was that we have been hacked.” In order to ensure fairness and security in the online poll, the Board of Elections set it up so that only one person per household could vote, allowing one vote per IP address. 

The Board of Elections is hoping that this contest will encourage people to get to the polls, with Ashley Dittus saying, “It is our hope that people in Ulster County and all over the country are inspired to vote, not just in an online contest but also at the polls where it matters the most.” 

There have been similar online voting contests that have gone viral in the past such as the infamous Boaty McBoatface incident in the United Kingdom in 2016 where the public was allowed to name a $287 million polar research ship. Boaty McBoatface got a total of 124,109 votes, blowing the competitors out of the water. As of this writing, however, Hudson’s submission has even more votes than Boaty had when the online polls closed on that viral contest.

If you haven’t voted yet and would like to, you can visit

Marbletown Ulster County Elections I Voted Sticker