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Thank you, Susan B. Anthony: Gravesite sticker tradition continues, now with a shield

Gavin Neville, 72, places an "I Voted" sticker on the grave of women's rights advocate Susan B. Anthony in Rochester, New York, on Monday, Nov. 2, 2020. The cemetery has put a plastic cover on the headstone so voters can place stickers on it without damaging the headstone.
Gavin Neville, 72, places an "I Voted" sticker on the grave of women's rights advocate Susan B. Anthony in Rochester, New York, on Monday, Nov. 2, 2020. The cemetery has put a plastic cover on the headstone so voters can place stickers on it without damaging the headstone. (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Visitors flocked to Susan B. Anthony’s gravesite on Election Day, in a move that’s starting to become a bit of a tradition: Stopping by the headstone and leaving your “I Voted” sticker, that is.

This Rochester, N.Y.-based NPR station estimated that hundreds of people stopped by Anthony’s gravesite earlier in the week.

In 1872, the women’s suffrage leader was arrested in Rochester for voting, which was illegal for women to do at the time. Anthony was sentenced to a $100 fine, but she never paid it. She wasn’t jailed, so she couldn’t take her case to the Supreme Court. Anthony is now buried at the Mount Hope Cemetery.

Prior to Election Day, The Associated Press reported that Anthony’s headstone now has a shield around it, to prevent further degradation to the marble from the “I Voted” stickers' glue -- and the cleaners used to remove the stickers.

Her sister Mary Anthony’s headstone, just next to hers, was also covered.

The shield looked nice, in photos seen from the site Tuesday.

A cemetery worker adjusts a plastic cover for the headstone of women's rights advocate Susan B. Anthony in Rochester, New York, Monday, Nov. 2, 2020.
A cemetery worker adjusts a plastic cover for the headstone of women's rights advocate Susan B. Anthony in Rochester, New York, Monday, Nov. 2, 2020. (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

The sticker trend became popular on Election Day 2016, said Patricia Corcoran, president of the nonprofit Friends of Mount Hope Cemetery, in an email. That day, as many as 12,000 people visited Mount Hope Cemetery, the sisters' final resting place, to honor the work done by Anthony to win women’s suffrage and to memorialize the first time Americans could vote for a female major-party presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton.

A restoration effort in spring revealed the damage done to the marble marker by the stickers, Corcoran said.

The nonprofit’s main mission is the cemetery’s preservation, “so above all we wanted to protect this iconic gravesite,” she said.

The headstones were already covered in plastic when in-person early voting began in New York.

Katie Polfleit, 20, places an "I Voted" sticker on the grave of women's rights advocate Susan B. Anthony in Rochester, New York, on Monday, Nov. 2, 2020.
Katie Polfleit, 20, places an "I Voted" sticker on the grave of women's rights advocate Susan B. Anthony in Rochester, New York, on Monday, Nov. 2, 2020. (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

The headstone may have been a popular destination this year because it’s the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote; the 200th anniversary of Anthony’s birth, and Kamala Harris, Democratic candidate Joe Biden’s running mate, is the first woman of color to be nominated for national office by a major party.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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