When I was in 7th grade I had a science teacher that decided grades were stupid, irrelevant, and unnecessary. Instead of grading our assignments, she would give us stickers for satisfactorily completing them. As students, we were concerned. We had already spent seven years investing ourselves in the letter grade system and we weren’t sure how stickers would translate to our report card. Despite how juvenile her mockery of good education seemed, we were still barely in the stage of life where we aimed to please and were generally obedient. When we were offered an extra sticker for cleaning out cubbies, we fought over who would be granted the honor, we took copious notes on the movie Space Camp, and instead of reading the required three “Magic School Bus” books we read five. For years we talked about how that class was such a waste of time, cooly acting as if we had never really bought into her system. What was that woman thinking anyway, I mean come on, stickers?
I feel I’ve matured some since 7th grade, but when I was at the polling station today I couldn’t help but eye the roll of “I voted” stickers with a well restrained, giddy sense of anticipation. I wouldn’t say the reason I vote is to get the sticker, and it’s hard for me to pinpoint why I find it so exciting. I don’t consider myself to be overly patriotic or politically minded, just performing my civic duty. I also never wear stickers any other time of the year. Honestly they aren’t even that attractive or unique, but there’s no way I’m leaving the polling station without one.