As I sit here in a cabin in NE Pennsylvania, this story from the Scranton PA Times-Tribune caught my eye. It concerns Lackawana County’s attempt to sell their old lever voting machines for scrap metal. The 800 pound “monstrosities” could net the county as much as $20,000 on the market.
The story made brought to mind the old lever machines I used to vote with in Cook County, IL. I describe these machines every year to a new crop of students–the dizzying array of hundreds of levers, the big black handle and the red curtain, and the physically and emotionally rewarding THUNK when you moved than handle and recorded your vote. I always felt so confident with these machines, since you could almost hear the wheels turning and the votes clicking away.
So who is saving a record of our election machinery? The Times-Tribune story notes that two or three of the machines are going to be preserved by the Pennsylvania Historical Commission. Does anyone know if the Smithsonian has purchased some lever machines? How about the Henry Ford Museum, that wondrous repository of our mechanical past? Has Mike Alvarez bought one for the lobby of his building? 😉
In all seriousness, I assume that there are examples of the butterfly ballot, the mechanical lever machine, and the Votomatic somewhere, but I can’t be sure. Perhaps some of our readers know, and if you do, why don’t you email them to me at email@example.com. I’ll post a list later.