New Iowa license plate: 'City and Country Reboot'

Design coming to vehicles sometime in 2018

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Capturing nearly 39 percent of the votes cast in a three-way contest for a new Iowa license plate, a design called “City and Country Reboot” is the winner, the state Department of Transportation announced Monday.

Gov. Kim Reynolds presented three options for a new plate at the opening day of the Iowa State Fair. Iowans attending the fair could vote for their favorite, and the Iowa DOT also invited votes to be cast online. The fair ended its 11-day run Sunday.

“Iowans made their voices heard in the selection process for our state’s next license plate design,” Reynolds said in a statement. “I’m glad so many were able to help select a meaningful design that should serve as a point of pride for our state and showcase our unique culture to the rest of the country.”

The winning plate depicts a city skyline in the upper left, a wind turbine and a farm in the upper right, and a green field along the bottom.

The design won with 113,299 of the 291,095 total votes cast, the Iowa DOT said. Another design, called “Flying Our Colors,” a riff on the state flag, received 110,352 votes and the third, called “The Great Wide Open,” showing rolling hills and shrubbery, got 67,444 votes.

But enough Iowans were underwhelmed by the choices, and said so in online posts sometimes with sharp language, that Iowa DOT designer Christina Andersen took to Facebook Aug. 12 to have her say.

“The severity of the words chosen in these comments ranges from stinging to an absolute gut punch that leaves me short of breath and tears flowing uncontrollably,” she wrote.

But there were restrictions for any plate design that had to be accommodated, she said — not the least of which was that the plate numbers ad letters had to be clearly readable.

“Think about it like this. If there is an abducted child and we have the plate number of a suspect, do you want an award winning license plate or something that improves our chances of finding that child?” Andersen wrote.

The new plate design will be available in 2018.

Plates with the new design will be issued to vehicle owners when they add or change vehicles and need to obtain new plates. Iowans who have valid plates will receive the new design when their current plate reaches the end of its 10-year replacement cycle. Owners who want a new plate sooner may purchase them their county treasurer’s office for $5, the Iowa DOT said.

The current standard plate selected in 1997 accounts for about 4.2 million of the 4.4 million Iowa plates in circulation. Offenders at the Anamosa State Penitentiary make the plates, producing more than 10,000 pairs a day.

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