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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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100 years ago in Spokane: County commissioners consider new voting machine technology

An editorial in The Spokesman-Review pointed out that voting machines have a “a number of outstanding advantages.” (SR archives)
An editorial in The Spokesman-Review pointed out that voting machines have a “a number of outstanding advantages.” (SR archives)

Spokane County commissioners were attempting to answer a question that remains equally vexing 100 years later: What is the best way to insure the integrity of an election?

In particular, the county commissioners were looking into a new technology, the voting machine.

An editorial in The Spokesman-Review pointed out that voting machines have a “a number of outstanding advantages.” They allowed the vote totals to be tabulated much more quickly, which would make long delays on election night a thing of the past. The election officials would be “spared the laborious hours of counting and checking.”

And because voting machines were automated, they would be less prone to error.

At least, that was the promise.

The Spokesman-Review’s editors were skeptical. Some voting machines, they pointed out, were “not as foolproof as supposed.” Like any other machine, they could “get out of order.” They sometimes did not register a vote the way the voter intended. Nor were they “proof against stupidity or ignorance.”

The editors noted that Seattle was planning to use them in its upcoming election. They advised that Spokane County should wait and see how that worked out first.

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