When Arapahoe County voters cast their ballots this November, they’ll get to showcase the artwork of three Arapahoe County students.
Fourth grader Liam Haden, sixth grader Carter Ruis and senior Grant Barnes won the county’s second bi-annual student sticker contest, organized by the elections' division.
“I think it's really, really important that kids know about voting, first and foremost,” said Clerk and Recorder Joan Lopez. “It’s awesome that the teachers actually made sure that (students) were involved with this sort of contest and getting involved with voting, period.”
Some students designed their stickers in school, while others were encouraged to enter by their parents, communications partner Tom Skelley said.
There were approximately 80 entries to the competition, which included an “I Voted” sticker category for middle and high school students and a “Future Voter” sticker category for elementary school students, Lopez said.
Regis Jesuit student Barnes and Falcon Creek student Ruis created the winning designs for the “I Voted” stickers.
“The first one was just representing the diversity in our county,” Lopez said about Barnes’ design. “It shows a lot of parts of Colorado with the mountains and the blue skies and it has all these different color hands, raising their hands, so to me that really stuck out.”
Barnes said he worked on the design in his graphic design class, where he learned Adobe Illustrator and his teacher encouraged him and his classmates to enter the competition.
"I wanted to make sure that everyone in Arapahoe County was represented through the different skin tones, clothes and accessories on each of the arms and hands in the design," he wrote in a message to Colorado Community Media. "I was surprised and excited when I heard that I had won."
Lopez said she loved that many designs, including Ruis’, celebrated the nature of Colorado.
“I love that he put the columbine flower, which is our state flower,” she said. “And the flag and just all the colors, including mountains as well.”
Ruis said he felt very happy and proud to win.
"I was inspired by all the things I love about Colorado, whether it's camping or just plain nature," he said in an an email.
The “Future Voter” sticker winner, Haden, also celebrated the state in his design. He said he entered the competition because his mom wanted him to and he thinks he's a good artist.
“You can tell that he took a lot of time,” Lopez said of the Aurora Academy student's winning design. “Putting the Capitol in the background, mountains … a wolf, trees and just everything, stars all over — it took a lot of time to do that. It was very detailed and very original.”
Staff members in the county’s elections division voted on the sticker designs via email to select the winners, Lopez said. Each winner's classroom won a $100 gift card to use as they please.
"I felt surprised and speechless when I found out," Haden said. "I feel great. I'm still surprised that I won."
Overall, Lopez said she hopes students learn the importance of voting from this competition.
“I'm hoping that they become voters,” she said. “It's super important to make sure that our kids are involved with democracy and just to make sure that the community leaders are who they want to actually run their community. I hope that this encourages them to vote.”
The winning “I Voted” designs will be included alternately in mail ballot packets for voters in the county's next coordinated election on November 7 and in all three 2024 elections. The “Future Voter” stickers will be handed out to children at county events and polling centers.
More information on voting in the county can be found at http://www.arapahoevotes.gov/.