Artistic touches help point out Philadelphia polling stations

Each polling place in Philadelphia will receive one of three posters designed by area artists. (Conrad Benner/Next Stop: Democracy)

Each polling place in Philadelphia will receive one of three posters designed by area artists. (Conrad Benner/Next Stop: Democracy)

Every polling place in Philadelphia today, Election Day, will have a poster created by an artist to announce that voting station. It’s part of an effort to make voting a more pleasant experience.

Next Stop: Democracy, a nonpartisan, get-out-the-vote organization, commissioned three Philadelphia artists to design posters in their individual style: graphic designers Nate Harris and Monica O, and the street artist Amber Lynn, also known as Amberella.

The only requirements of the artists were to make it nonpartisan and incorporate the words “Vote Here Aqui” into the design. The three designs were printed hundreds of times each and distributed to every polling location in the city.

“That element of excitement when you go to your polling location and your see a well-done poster by a popular Philly artist, maybe it makes you happier and puts a smile on your face,” said Conrad Benner, creator of the graffiti blog and co-coordinator of the poster project.

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The poster project is an offshoot of a public art effort last election, in which Next Stop: Democracy commissioned 60 artists to make original work for 20 polling places. But coordinating with 20 individual polling places proved to be a logistical burden.

This year, Next Stop: Democracy worked directly with the Philadelphia city commissioners office to include printed posters into the official kits distributed to poll workers.

“I’m so excited that when I told my friends they were, like, I can’t wait to see yours there,” said Monica O, 28. “It’s awesome knowing they are already going to vote, especially people our age. It was cool I was contributing to something like that.”

The poster project was funded by Citizen University “Joy of Voting” initiative, which is trying to bring back the good ol’ days when “street theater, open-air debates, bonfires and festivals were a part of every election,” according to its website.

Step one to bringing the fun back to voting is figuring out where voting happens.

“There is no sign that is required on the outside of a polling place that says, in plain English, ‘this Is where you vote,'” said Next Stop: Democracy director Lansie Sylvia. “The signage that is required is the sample ballot, and if you’re first-time voter and don’t know what a sample ballot looks like, that’s not helpful.”

Silvia said one in 10 people surveyed who noticed the artwork last year said it influenced their decision to vote.

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