It’s a favored tradition for people who practice their civic duty and participate in a presidential election: Pick up a coveted “I Voted” sticker when leaving a polling station, and then share a picture of it on social media for all to see.
But for many Tuesday, the excitement of getting one of the small oval stickers bearing an American flag never came. Some polling stations, it turns out, just didn’t have them on hand, leaving many feeling left out.
“I didn’t get one,” said a dejected Elisabeth Sweeney, of Woburn. “I was kind of just excited, obviously, because for social media it’s fun. And to wear it today, it shows people it’s important to vote and that you are taking on that responsibility. So I was definitely disappointed.”
There’s a reason Woburn was without stickers this year — lack of funding.
A woman who answered the phone at the city clerk’s office said that due to budget cuts, they decided against the stickers.
“It’s not supplied by the state, so it’s something we have to do ourselves,” said Diane Stiffler. “It’s one of those things. When the budget goes down, something’s got to go.”
Brian McNiff, spokesman for the state Elections Division, said it falls on the shoulders of individual cities and towns to stock up on stickers for Election Day. It’s not a requirement, he said, to give away the symbolic adhesive labels to anyone who walks through the doors.
“Some have them, some don’t,” he said, adding that the tradition seemed relatively new. “I think, with the level of voting today, maybe some places just ran out.”
A North Carolina election-supply company, Intab LLC, is credited with making the stickers a popular Election Day item.
Beyond being a signifying mark that voters this year could breath a sigh of relief, and put this election behind them, the stickers also allow voters access to certain perks. Places such as Red Apple Farm, in Boston Public Market, give away goodies like doughnuts if a voter stops by their business and flashes the sticker. Other establishments are offering discounts on cocktails, and free appetizers, sandwiches, or cookies.
A quick scroll through Instagram and Twitter Tuesday revealed handfuls of people sharing pictures of their stickers, proudly exclaiming through images that they had taken part in the democratic process. Some people planted the stickers on their lapels or front of their shirts. Others placed the stickers on their fingers, and tried for a more artistic Instagram shot to share with their followers.
Christian Ordonez, 19, a first-time voter, didn’t get to do either.
Ordonez said his polling station in Revere didn’t have the stickers when he arrived. He said he felt as though he was left out of a tradition many have enjoyed before him.
“I feel as though voting is contributing to the country, and it’s a part of history as well, and a lot of us are first-time voters,” he said. “So [getting a sticker] is all part of the experience.”
But he let it be, he said. Ordonez did what counted: He voted.
“I just forgot about it,” he said.
No sticker at the polling place. WHAT IS EVEN THE POINT?!— Elsje (Ellllllshha) (@Elsjeswny) November 8, 2016
Voted, no sticker. My sorrows --> pic.twitter.com/PfEa0NuIML— Ian Dunkle (@LettuceByRail) November 8, 2016
I voted - no sticker - the Mayor of Woburn cut them out of the budget, the workers were happy to tell me, and to... https://t.co/ZSdpkkQRkv— Mogrianne (@Mogrianne) November 8, 2016
I DESERVE A STICKER FOR MY CIVIC DUTY— kathryn (@kathrynlillian_) November 7, 2016
Just voted and didn't even get an "I Voted" sticker. I am LIVID. #iVoted— Catherine Ozek (@cmozek) November 8, 2016