As a recent transplant to Chicago, I was eager to cast my ballot on Election Day. And I’m not ashamed to admit that I was equally excited to get an iconic “I Voted” sticker to patriotically don on my lapel for the rest of the day and, perhaps more important, to highlight in my all-important, post-voting selfie.

In my previous hometown of New York City, the stickers featured a design motif inspired by a subway map. On past Election Days, it made my heart swell to see sticker-clad friends, neighbors, colleagues and complete strangers beaming in their Instagram, Twitter and Facebook posts, reminding other people to get out and perform their civic duty. For my virtual community and myself, these silly little stickers were a meaningful way to feel connected in our virtual lives and in real life.

You can imagine my dismay Tuesday when a Chicago poll worker handed me a flimsy white strip of paper — a wristband — after I fed my ballots through a scanner.

Some Illinois polling places give out “I Voted” stickers. Others give out Lollapalooza-inspired wristbands, claiming they “have big play on social media with selfies.”

I’m officially protesting. While a wristband does provide interesting opportunities to literally flex your voting muscles in a patriotic Rosie the Riveter-inspired pose or to raise a fist in solidarity, in practice most voters opted for more conventional snaps. As a result, Chicago social media is littered with blurry photos of disembodied wrists — many of which displayed the band’s text, “I voted! Did you?” upside down or cropped to the point of being nearly illegible.

In addition to not exactly having “big play on social media,” adhesive wristbands also are difficult get on without assistance. Research also suggests that conventional wristbands aren’t terribly eco-friendly.

Perhaps most important, however, the bands do not adequately perform the duty for which “I Voted” stickers were created. With temperatures in Chicago flirting with chilly on Election Day, voters’ rock ’n’ roll wristbands inevitably got swallowed up by layers of sweaters, coats and gloves.

A sticker, however, can be flaunted on one’s outermost layers or affixed to a tote or backpack for everyone to see. Additionally, and much like the recent trend for Instagram-friendly statement earrings, the “I Voted” sticker does indeed play well in selfies.

Illinois should give “I Voted” stickers to every voter, if only because fashion and politics are so inextricably intertwined. In a recent New York Times article examining the relationship between fashion and politics, Vanessa Friedman, the Times fashion director and chief fashion critic, rightly noted that what we wear is “an overt expression of our values.” However, in this heated political climate, “Make America Great Again” baseball caps and tailored female pantsuits are iconic symbols of the political divide that is cleaving our nation into two countries.

“I Voted” stickers are a quaint, nonpartisan way for us bridge that divide, if even sartorially.

Lauren Downing Peters is an assistant professor in the fashion studies department at Columbia College in Chicago.

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