Early voting kicked off Saturday and visitors have been flocking to Susan B. Anthony’s gravesite in Rochester to place an 'I Voted Today!' sticker on the headstone, an Election Day ritual for the folks in Rochester that has also been drawing crowds near and far. Unlike previous years where the red, white, and blue stickers would go directly onto the marble marker, this election year, the grave of the leader of the women’s suffrage movement, has a whole new look: a clear plastic shield.
And, it is not just Susan B. Anthony's headstone that has a sticker shield so does her sister, Mary S. Anthony, whose grave is beside hers.
“We have a couple of sleeves and can take one-off and put a new one on as they fill up with stickers,” said Justin Roj, communication director for the city of Rochester, reported the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle.
Indeed, voters didn’t waste any time getting their stickers placed. The plan, said Roj, was to have the headstones covered by Nov. 3, but the sleeves were already there by Saturday, the first day of in-person early voting, and quickly attracted those early voters who wanted to make it known that they voted to make their mark on the monumental headstone.
Patricia Corcoran, president of Friends of Mount Hope Cemetery, a non-profit whose mission is the historic preservation of the cemetery, was instrumental in making sure that the headstone had a proper shield to prevent further degradation to the marble from the solvents and adhesives used to remove them. The damage from the stickers, she explained, was discovered in the Spring during a restoration effort.
“Above all we wanted to protect this iconic gravesite,” Corcoran told the news outlet.
The sticker trend became popular on Election Day 2016, she noted. That day, as many as 12,000 people traveled to Anthony’s gravesite to honor the work Susan B. Anthony did to win women the right to vote and to celebrate Hillary Clinton, the first female presidential candidate for a major party to run in the presidential race.
The stickers, she noted, had mixed reviews. On one hand, she said it was seen as a patriotic gesture; but also, harm to the headstone, “many people considered this to be a desecration of a family gravestone because a gravestone is private property, the Associated Press reported.
With Anthony’s protective shield in place, Corcoran along with the city of Rochester is now ready for the people.
“Susan B. Anthony has admirers from all over the world, and her gravesite has become a shrine with hundreds of people visiting every week,” said Corcoran. “Thanks to our painstaking stewardship, hopefully, this area of the cemetery will remain pristine, and her family gravestones will be protected for generations to come.”
In the meantime, Roj expects the covers to remain on the headstone for a few days after Nov. 3 as crowds of registered voters continue to gather and show their patriotism. He also noted that visitors can also place an 'I Voted' sticker on an oversized thank-you card to Anthony’s gravesite.
“We’re preparing to accommodate a crowd, whatever size it ends up being,” Roj said.