In the early 1800's, the U.S. used paper ballots as means of voting, but this came with a host of issues. One such issue was that the votes were hand counted, and human error was inevitable. Plus, there was no official form of registration so all voters had to do was swear an oath saying they were qualified voters. Not to mention, if the person counting the votes was corrupt, they could rig the ballot box. Fortunately, this was mitigated when a Rochester man by the name of Jacob H. Myers patented the first ever mechanical lever voting machine in 1889 (

Check out Iowa PBS's informative video about the progression of voting machines:

The Original Myers Voting Machine Patent

Myers Automatic Booth lever polling machine patent

Myers' invention greatly decreased voter fraud and inaccuracy since you had to be registered to vote and the machine counted the votes, completely eliminating human error. The first recorded use of the machine was in Lockport, NY for a local election in 1892.

Vintage Polling Machine

vintage voting machine

Take a look at this vintage voting ad, which features an authentic automatic polling machine. Even though the machine was invented in 1889, Congress didn't approve of its use for federal elections until 1899, according to the Virginia Department of Elections.

Modern Lever Voting Machine

Lever Polliing Machine

I remember when I was little my dad once carried me into one of these to show me how it worked; I couldn't wait to be big enough to pull the lever and press all the buttons. This specific machine is perhaps the most modern version of the Myers Automatic Booth, and a photograph of it can be found on Louisiana's Secretary of State website. Myers' design had a powerful influence on the current voting system in America.

The Myers Automatic Voting Booth was so effective, New York used it for 114 years. It wasn't until a digital electronic voting device was introduced in 2010 that we stopped using it (Richard O. Reisem). To this day, many people believe that Myers' booth was more effective at keeping elections genuine and as accurate as possible since there is now the potential for internet hackers to infiltrate with an electronic system.

What do you think, should we go back to the mechanical booth or keep it electronic?

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