It's not fine art, but the new license plate will do its job

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So the great Iowa license plate vote has come to an end.

The winner, after 10 days of voting online and at the Department of Transportation’s Iowa State Fair booth, is “City and Country Reboot.” It’s a redesign of Iowa’s current 20-year-old plate featuring a farm scene with the image of an urban skyline in the backdrop. The new plate also features an urban scene, along with a farm and a wind turbine, flanking “Iowa” along the top. Prairie grass sprouts along the bottom of the new plate, which trades the current blue and white color scheme for a somewhat bolder blue and green. Black letters and numbers appear on a white background.

It received 113,299 votes, or 39 percent of votes cast, just beating out a red, white and blue design dubbed “Flying Our Colors,” which got 110,352 votes, or 38 percent. A third design, “The Great Wide Open,” featuring a green landscape, received 67,444 votes. The vote wasn’t a scientific survey. Iowans could vote as many times as they liked.

Honestly, we weren’t enamored with any of the designs. That’s not to suggest we’re joining the sometimes nasty chorus of critics who were hardly Iowa nice. Some of that vitriol was aimed at DOT designer Christina Andersen, who was on a team that created the new plates within tight constraints set out by the department. She was not given a blank canvass to fill with her most creative artistic dreams.

“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 on Facebook in response to criticism.

Good point. Debating this sort of stuff is a national pastime. But, in the end, it’s a license plate.

The winning design does its job. Visually, it’s an improvement over Iowa’s current drab plate. Its letters and numbers clearly are visible. The state’s name is prominent, which is good news for any American kids who still look up from their screens long enough to play a good old fashioned round of license plate bingo.

And here in Cedar Rapids, a city where more than a million bushels of grain are handled by local industries each day, a “City and Country Reboot” seems appropriate. We can accept the voters’ verdict.

Now, on to more important matters. Such as, does Iowa need a new motto?

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