When I moved here two years ago and changed my voter registration from Georgia to Tennessee, I was surprised when I first cast my ballot in the city elections last year. You see, in Georgia, at every polling location, after you cast your ballot, you receive the best part:
Yes, "I'm a Georgia Voter" stickers.
Ok, I know the stickers aren't really the best part of voting, but for me, they've been an integral part of the experience since I started going to the polls. They also serve as handy reminders -- I can't tell you how many times people have seen me wearing my sticker and said, "Oh, it's Election Day? I need to go vote!" This is hardly an issue next week, or with any presidential election, but when it's a primary for a local election on some random Tuesday in June? They can really help.
So when I cast my ballot in Knoxville and didn't get a sticker, I was shocked. But I got over it. I just assumed Tennessee wasn't as cool as Georgia ... that is, until a friend of mine tweeted the following picture:
Since he lives in Nashville, I knew it wasn't just a Tennessee thing. Then I noticed that friends in Memphis had posted pictures of their "I voted" stickers. And so I knew something was terribly, terribly wrong -- why do people in Nashville and Memphis get stickers for voting but we here in Knoxville don't????
To find out the answer to this, our most pressing of election questions, I called up Cliff Rodgers, the Administrator of Elections in Knox County.
"Why don't we get stickers when we vote?" I asked.
"Because of money. It's just another expense," Rodgers said. "It's just something else the officers have to cart to the polling sites. Have you seen how much equipment they cart?"
Rodgers went on to explain that Knox County did, once upon a time, issue stickers to voters, but when they ran low the last time, they decided not to order any more. The few stickers left at the Election Commission are used for fake elections in elementary schools to teach kids about the electoral process. "The little first graders really liked the stickers," Rodgers said.
When I pointed out that other cities in Tennessee still hand out the stickers, Rodgers said he's open to bringing them back here.
"Certainly the door's not shut on it," Rodgers said. "If people want us to spend money on stickers, it's something we could look into."
So there you have it. If you, the voters of Knox County, want stickers to go with next year's local elections, let Rodgers know. Although we suggest waiting until after next Tuesday to do so -- Rodgers said his staff is already working 12 to 14 hour days.