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The Washington State Quarter

The State of Washington has posted a poll asking people to vote for one of the finalist designs for their forthcoming state quarter:

WA State Quarter Design 1

Design 1

WA State Quarter Design 2

Design 2

WA State Quarter Design 3

Design 3

When I checked the results a couple of days ago, Design 2 was in the lead. Now Design 3 is ahead by a commanding margin, which is extremely gratifying -- not just because I'm a fan of Native American and First Nations art from the Pacific Northwest, but because it's so unique, so evocative, and so memorable.

Many of the state quarters to date have gone down the same uninspired design path: a symbol (a palmetto tree, a minuteman, a peach, etc.) in front of an outline of the state, as with Design 1 above. Yawn. Design 2 isn't much better: it could be the state quarter of Idaho or Montana, or a window decal from Orvis or Cabela's. Design 3 is simple and unmistakeable. It deserves to win.

The poll runs through 30 April.


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Sometimes these polls can be dangerous. I can think of two examples from here in the UK where football (soccer) clubs have had them. One was by a small club in the lower reaches of the professional game, who held an online poll to choose the design of the club's 2nd strip shirts. To add an extra interactive element, the designs had been produced by fans, including one vomit-inducing effort by a clearly insane child, and which was probably impossible to make, as well as being possibly the most disgusting garment ever designed. Of course, emails flew round the web, and this kit was winning by thousands of votes, until the last day when amazingly a more sober design garnered about a gazillion votes - an obvious fix that lef to the club being ridiculed.

The other one was Manchester City, who, on moving to their new stadium, had an internet vote on which legendary ex-player should have a stand named after him. One of the option was Colin Bell; and it was soon spotted that, given the convention in soccer to call the stands behind each goal an 'end', this stand could end up being called "The Bell End" - a euphemism for the end of the penis. Much hilarity ensued, and yes, that name won the poll by thousands of votes. Manchester City initially refused to accept the result, until they were threatend with legal action by Colin Bell himself!

Anyway, it's good to see those designs are so sensible and are avoiding some of these traps. I thought they might amuse you though!


Dave, I think the State of Washington had a number of controls in place to prevent this. People submitted ideas for designs to a commission. The commission published some or all of these submissions, and I believe might have solicited public input, but made a decision on its own about which three to send to the next phase. The three designs were described via text narratives and sent to the US Mint to create prototypes. Those are the three prototypes you see above. The public input that's being solicited now isn't a vote -- it's input for the commission as it makes its final recommendation. And then even that can be overridden by the Governor. So I think they have layer upon layer of controls designed to ensure that no "vomit-inducing" or "disgusting" designs can make it through.

Although sometimes it's more fun when they do.

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