Letter: Democracy has no place in selecting a license plate

As a former Wisconsin resident now living in Cedar Rapids, I have a word of advice regarding letting people vote on the state’s new license plate: Don’t.

Wisconsin tried this in the early 80s when it came time to replace what was known as the “butter plate.” It was solid yellow with black letters and no designs.

Then Gov. Anthony Earl unveiled the choices which had been submitted by various artists. The winner was somewhat similar to one of the current Iowa choices. It’s the one with grass on the bottom and silhouettes of the Des Moines skyline, a windmill, and a farm.

When the votes were tallied, the winning design featured a band across the top with “Wisconsin” followed by a stylized sailboat and waterfowl, and a farmstead. The problem was the design looked different when rendered on a sheet of aluminum. They were squished down and hard to recognize at a distance. There were jokes that the state’s motto should be changed from “America’s Dairyland” to “Land of the Sailing farmers.” In short, people hated it.

Yet over 30 years later, it remains, save for minor modifications. Gov. Earl caught so much grief his successors have been afraid to change it.

I’ll probably vote on one of the choices when I go to the state fair this week, but I’ll keep my choice to myself. I don’t want anyone to blame me if it is the winner. And they will.

Art Hackett

Cedar Rapids

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