One of the most memorable — and bipartisan — images of this year’s hard-fought election season is the “I Voted” stickers that have become an annual symbol of Election Day across Minnesota.

It’s all thanks to Ramsey County Elections Manager Joe Mansky. In the 1990s, then-Secretary of State Joan Growe had heard of other states printing stickers that voters could wear and she asked Mansky, then the state election director, to design one for Minnesota.

“I was not in favor of it. I thought it was crazy,” he said.

He picked a “simple design” and chose a red color so it would be the most visible, and the office got a change in state law since election judges weren’t allowed to hand out anything other than ballots. By 1994, the state primary debuted 2 million stickers.

To Mansky’s astonishment, the stickers stuck, becoming a feature of every election. This year, the Secretary of State’s office bought 6.5 million stickers for the primary and midterm elections, costing $24,000 total.

“They’ve really taken on a life of their own,” he said.

Thanks to the internet, you can buy the image on T-shirts and pillows if you want to share your civic pride year-round. In fact, Ramsey County voters requested something more permanent than stickers last year so the county bought a small batch of red buttons.

“They just flew out of there,” Mansky said, adding that Ramsey County bought about 15,000 buttons this year.

Kelly Smith