Auburn University student's design selected for publication by Alabama Secretary of State

By Carol Nelson, Office of Communications and Marketing



Auburn University students were recently tasked with creating a cover design for the state of Alabama's Voter Guide.

The students are sophomores in the pre-graphic design sequence, Production Processes and Typography I, and are working to enter the program as graphic design majors. They were provided with required text and the Alabama state seal, but otherwise, were free to be creative with the assignment.

"I am very pleased with the students and the work that they have produced for this project," said Ross Heck, professor in the Department of Industrial and Graphic Design. "They each submitted at least two designs of their choice. That was a sign to me that they really wanted to produce a solution for the Secretary of State."

The guide is published by the Secretary of State's Election Division and provides information to citizens on voter registration, election dates, polling places and voting procedures.

At the end of November, one design was chosen for the cover of the guide. Kyle Pauley's artwork was selected by Secretary of State Beth Chapman and her staff.

"The winning artwork was creative and has a well-rounded appeal to our voters," said Chapman. "I am thankful to the students and the faculty at Auburn University for participating in this project and hope that they continue to be interested and engaged in the political process."

Pauley incorporated actual stars and stripes from an American flag in the design.

"I didn't draw them or make them; I scanned a real flag, which gave the design a unique feel," he said. "You always see tons of stars and stripes on that kind of project, but I felt like having a real flag scan would give it an extra 'pop' and I think it worked out well. I also incorporated a check mark for the letter 'V' on the word 'vote' that I sketched myself; that was something that has been done before, but I put my own spin on it. Everything else was just a simple design that I carefully crafted, and with help from my classmates giving suggestions and opinions, I was able to make it even better."

Pauley said he is honored that his design was selected for the Voter Guide project; the class provided around 30 designs from which the Secretary of State's office could choose.

"When I was designing it I never thought I was going to win, especially when everyone else in the class had such great designs. I just told myself I wanted a simple design that got the point across quickly and effectively and I was happy with what I came up with, but it still seemed a surprise that they chose mine."

This is not the first time Heck and his classes have worked with the Secretary of State's office. Previous classes have designed voter registration posters for use all over the state. The designs have also been featured in exhibits at the state capitol in Montgomery.

Ed Packard, supervisor of voter registration for the state of Alabama and an Auburn graduate, first connected with Heck while he was working in the Center for Governmental Services at Auburn.

"At the center, we were doing election projects for the secretary of state. That's when I did the first poster project with Professor Heck and the Graphic Design program," Packard explained. "When I moved to the state full time, I kept that relationship in mind. It's a great win-win because students get some real-life experience producing a product for a client and the state gets professional art to go on a publication."

The voter guides are expected to be available as early as December of this year. They will be distributed to county courthouses, voter registration offices and civic groups that work in voter outreach. Additionally, the guide will be available as a pdf download on the secretary of state's website (, and Packard said that citizens may call the office to request a copy.

"This collaboration with the graphic design students at Auburn University gives me great encouragement for the type of talented and engaged young people we have at all of the colleges and universities around our great state," Chapman said. "It's wonderful experience for the students and we appreciate them bringing state-of-the-art ideas in our office, as well. The artwork that we saw for the cover of the Voter Guide was innovative and forward thinking and it was a pleasure to consider them all."

The Secretary of State's office will create an exhibit of the students' designs to be displayed at the state capitol in early 2012.

"We value the partnership that we have had with Professor Heck and the Graphic Design program at Auburn University. This project has provided the secretary of state with professional quality artwork for one of our most important election publications," Packard said. "We appreciate Auburn University's commitment to serving the people of Alabama through this long-term relationship with the Secretary of State."

Last Updated: Dec. 7, 2011

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