All five of the proposals ditch the mustard-orange background that’s been on New York plates since 2010 in favor of white or light blue backgrounds, and four of them replace the “Empire State” text with “Excelsior,” a motto included on the state’s seal that means “ever upward.”
The one proposed design that lacks the “Excelsior” reference includes an image of the new Tappan Zee Bridge, which Gov. Cuomo named after his father, former Gov. Mario Cuomo.
Three of the choices predominantly feature images of the Statue of Liberty.
“License plates are a symbol of who we are as a state and New Yorkers should have a voice and a vote in its final design,” Cuomo said in a statement announcing the online vote. “I encourage all residents to take part in choosing this piece of our state’s history.”
Cuomo said the new design will help phase out many of the 3 million New York State license plates that are more than 10 years old. The new plates will also ensure that cars are able to be easily tracked by license plate reader technology, which will be used to enforce New York City’s congestion pricing program come 2021.
“A good license plate design should have a distinctive color palate and the iconic items or symbols should be legible,” said Ramsey. “None of that is present in any of these.”
Ramsey was concerned the proposed color schemes, which are mostly muted whites and blues, could be hard to see from a distance. He said he preferred two options above the rest: one with an image of the Statue of Liberty on the left side of the plate, and one other with the statue’s iconic flame affixed between the letters and numbers.
“They’re the most clear, iconic ones,” Ramsey said of his preferred choices. “Of course they both say 'excelsior,” but, hey, what are you going to do?"
New Yorkers will be able to vote on the new plate design until Monday, Sept. 2.