Unknown Stories of WNY: The First Automatic Voting Machine

Unknown Stories of WNY: First Voting Booth

LOCKPORT, NY -  It was a step into the future for voters in Lockport more than a century ago.  The polls were set up in a building within the city of Lockport, despite the fact that it was town election. This particular election had a point of interest beyond the race itself. "They say it attracted more people at that time than could vote, because people wanted to see how it was going to work" says Ann Marie Linnaberry, the Assistant Director and the History Center of Niagara.

"It" was the very first automatic lever voting machine, a true example Western New York teamwork. These machines were invented by Jacob Myers in Rochester, manufactured in Jamestown, and debuted in 1892, in a building at 7 West Main Street in the City of Lockport. 

The machine promised more accuracy, and also more access for voters. Until that point, if you were illiterate, you often could not vote. The machine was color-coded for political party, so everyone could vote regardless of whether they could read and write. Almost everyone that is, it would be another 28 years before women would achieve that right.


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