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A message from the ALPCA President: 2021 Covington convention date changed to Aug 4-7

ALPCA's Best Plate of 2013

Winner: Michigan Mackinac Bridge

Image of Michigan plate

The official press release: PDF - Word - HTML

ALPCA members only: See the voting results.


Here are the nominees for ALPCA's Best Plate of 2013 Award. ALPCA members' votes will determine which state, province or territory will win this year's top honor. Since 1970, ALPCA has conducted the Best Plate Award competition annually. It is open to plates from the United States, Canada, and their territories.

ca pei mx co 2013 us ar eagle us ga appalachian trail 2014 us in general us la forestry us mi mackinac bridge us mn pheasant us nv 150th us oh pride us sc rocky mountain elk foundation us tn battlefields

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About this year's awards

With a record number of members voting, Michigan won the Best Plate Award for 2013 with their redesigned Mackinac Bridge license plate with about 36% of the maximum number of points. Minnesota, Prince Edward Island and Arkansas plates each briefly took an early lead several times, but Michigan finally ran away to a clear victory. Geof Andrews (9055) voted for this plate as "its legibility, originality (thinking outside the box), and for a subject so important to the state (and borders the lake of the same name) joining together the upper and lower peninsulas which make up the Wolverine State." Dick Yorga (4045) commented "Achieves the magic quality of beauty and legibility combined." This plate was originally proposed by the Mackinac Bridge Authority and designed by Brian Whitfield, a graphic artist with the Michigan Department of Transportation. As a Michigan resident President ALPCA President Greg Gibson won't have far to travel to present this award. Details of the presentation will be posted on our website along with announcements on both the Announce and the Discussion Lists.

Several members responded that I was incorrect to consider the Mackinac Bridge plate a general issue as there is a nominal, one-time fee of $5 to get this plate. However, the state lists it under the heading "standard plate" along with 2 other currently available plates (and 2 plates that are no longer available but still renewable) so I stand behind my classification of it as a general issue or maybe we should call it an alternate general issue. Optional plates typically cost extra and generally raise money for some special cause and/or identify with some group, organization or special cause.

The Mackinac Bridge

As an engineer, I find the bridge itself to be a magnificent accomplishment which provides untold economic benefit to the state. Over 160 million vehicles have crossed this bridge including us. It is the world's longest suspension bridge between anchorages with a total length of about 5 miles. The construction cost was $99.8 million when it opened in 1957. Five people died during the construction. The current toll is $4 for cars which helps pay for a current $300 million project to replace the entire decking (roadway surface). Anyone uncomfortable with driving across this bridge may arrange in advance for a turnpike employee to drive their vehicle across the bridge at no extra charge.


During the last 4 years when I have been the coordinator, 1 or 2 plates would take the initial lead and continue to stay ahead of other competition. However, this year, 5 other plates proved to be very popular: Arkansas, Minnesota, Nevada, Prince Edward Island and Tennessee. These 6 plates received a total of over 75% of the votes. Arkansas was runner up among the mail in ballots while there was a virtual 3 way tie for second between Prince Edward Island, Minnesota and Nevada from those emailing their choices. All of them were both attractive and legible which are the only 2 criteria which members are asked to consider. Member comments showed significantly greater approval of the choices which may account for record voting. Richard Schaeffer (8377) was the only member expressing to choose none of these. He assured me he was most definitely not a curmudgeon except a tiny bit when it comes to plates of the last 20 years. He had more lively comments which are too long to print. His favorite plates include 1937 Ontario, 1965 Utah and 1970 Wyoming. Hang in Richard as the retro look started to come back a few years ago and is likely to reappear.

Thank you

As usual I received many thank you comments on the ballots and emails. Justin Mattes (6748) said "This is one of ALPCA's best programs and you continue to raise the bar." Richard Cunningham (9980) stated "Again this year THANK YOU for all your time to coordinate this effort! I believe it has very positive benefits for our hobby." I would gladly still do this without such comments but I find it encouraging that so many have expressed their appreciation to me personally as well as their support for the program. I would like to express my thanks to every one of you who voted and an extra thanks to the members who submitted nominations, supplied photos, and/or participated on the selection committee. These members were listed in the February issue of PLATES.

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