Thousands of Pittsburghers who went to the polls today are wearing special edition “I voted” stickers featuring the phrase “Stronger Than Hate” — the city’s rallying cry since the mass shooting 10 days ago at Tree of Life synagogue.
15,000 stickers will be available while supplies last at some polling locations in East Liberty, Oakland, Shadyside and Squirrel Hill.
Shaken by the massacre, Jeanne Clark said she woke up Wednesday with a thought: “We need better stickers for the election.”
So Clark, chairperson of the Shadyside Democratic party, contacted Sam Dorsey, a designer who’s worked with the party before to see if it would be possible to combine two messages into one sticker. In a matter of hours, Dorsey got permission from graphic creator Tim Hindes to use the “Stronger Than Hate” image, made several designs, and found a printer.
Meanwhile, Clark called around to party chairpeople whose numbers she happened to have in her cell phone to see if they were interested in stickers. She reached leaders in East Liberty, Oakland and Squirrel Hill, who all wanted stickers, and then she tried to estimate how many to print.
“We ordered 15,000,” she said, adding that it was a risk. She paid for the stickers herself, hoping she’ll later be reimbursed by party chairpeople and Shaydside Democrats.
The risk paid off.
“My ward is already out of them,” she told The Incline just after lunch on Election Day.
South Side’s Raff Printing turned around the sticker order in just over a day, making sure the order was complete by Friday evening, so the stickers could be distributed to each neighborhood’s leader.
“It was a lot of people working together,” Clark said. “A lot of people who know how to move fast and make decisions.”
For her, the sticker is a way to contribute to the community.
“When something terrible happens, being able to take any kind of action that might help really makes you feel a little bit better,” she said. “It was a need I had, but I also felt like I wanted to honor our communities and what we’d all been through together and show that we were continuing to work together.”
Having been politically active for years, Clark knows how much voters cherish “I voted” stickers. Allegheny County itself, by the way, does not hand out “I voted” stickers.
“I think everybody was wanting to show not just that they voted, but they’re strong, and they’re standing up against hate, and they’re all part of the same community,” Clark said.
Though she herself is a Democratic leader, the stickers intentionally don’t list a party affiliation because she wanted the message to be “unifying.”
“It gives people a feeling of empowerment,” she said. “We might have been attacked, but we’re voting back.”