Voting Machine

Date(s): Circa 1870-1900
Material: Metal

This voting machine from Jamestown, New York, was used in a state and local election circa 1890 to 1900.  New York was the first state to allow the use of automatic voting machines.  This particular machine contains the original paper label inserts with the question “Should women be allowed to vote?” Voters rejected the proposition and women were not permitted to vote in New York until 1917.

New York was the central location for many of the most influential reform movements of the nineteenth and twentieth century’s including abolition, temperance, education, religion, and voting rights.  Beginning with the 1848 Seneca Falls convention, New York became the battleground for the fight for suffrage.  In 1872, Susan B. Anthony was arrested for voting in Rochester, New York.  Suffrage parades were held regularly in the early twentieth century, and many prominent women’s rights organizations were headquartered in New York.

While the exact date of the election for this particular machine requires additional research, the suffrage question was most definitely not resolved in this election.  Two state measures were voted on along with several local political offices.  The state questions asked about women’s suffrage and whether the state of New York should spend $101 million to enlarge the Erie Canal.  Local races featured a Democrat and Republican running for each seat: prosecuting attorney, sheriff, county clerk, county treasurer, register of deeds and drain commissioner.

This machine was acquired by the Museum in 2008 and is now on view as a part of the museum’s permanent exhibitions.

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