What really peeve me about elections are those “I voted” stickers. I don’t really see any use to them except to increase smugness. Voting should be done out of a sense of civic pride or belief in the issues at stake, not for some sticker or associated feelings.
If the sticker is an incentive for one to vote, then I think one is voting for the wrong reason. A physical sticker should have exactly 0% chance of influencing one to vote. Furthermore, others knowing that you voted should have no influence on whether you vote or not. In other words, others’ perceptions of you should not have any influence on your civic pride or personal beliefs, and thus having the signal that you voted in the “I voted” sticker should be moot. In other other words, the “I voted” sticker is absolutely useless.
A friend mentioned that the sticker might be useful in that it helps get people out to vote, i.e. it raises general awareness that today is a day to vote. I think this is a little silly because (a) the voting date is not ambiguous and everyone should know about it well ahead of time, (b) anyone who is registered to vote gets all that mail, including a sample ballot, and (c) those little stickers aren’t exactly the most conspicuous way to announce an election (see points above). And even if seeing a sticker gets someone who wouldn’t have voted otherwise to go and vote, is that person really voting for the right reason? I mean, if one is apathetic enough to not realize that it is an election day (but for seeing a sticker), doesn’t that imply that one didn’t really care about voting anyway? And if the sticker is a form of peer pressure for others to vote, isn’t that also voting for the wrong reason (and the sticker its medium)?
Which is all to say that the “I voted” sticker is just a way to (more or less literally) wear your pride on your sleeves. Which is cool and all, but I think severely misplaces how and why one should feel about voting.