Skip Navigation/Skip to Content

What kinds of fraud did the voting machine try to prevent?

Error text.


What it replaced would have been a system of paper ballots that would have been a slip of paper with candidate names printed on it that would be called a ticket. It would be possible to fold up multiple copies of that ticket and vote it as one but it would be counted as three, four, five. In San Francisco in its first city election, a ballot box was discovered with a false bottom that had paper ballots hidden inside it and although the top of the box remained locked, it was possible to open the slot and mix those ballots in with the general population of voted ballots.


Interview with Larry Bird, Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History, May 31, 2006.

In late nineteenth century, politics in the urban north often included organizations, or "machines" that controlled the disbursement of public resources. Reformers saw machine politics as a source of corruption and fraud, but working class individuals and new immigrants often viewed the machines as a source of security in an unsure social and economic environment.