Drawing of a Voting Machine
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States such as Kansas, in 1887, began to allow women the right to vote in municipal elections. In 1901, New York allowed women to vote on matters of local taxation. By 1914, the states of Arizona, California, Kansas, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Washington and the territory of Alaska had all granted women voting rights equal to those of men. This locally idiosyncratic system of voter eligibility was the result of painstaking efforts in state-by-state campaigns for women's voting rights. These varying degrees of voting rights presented an opportunity and challenge for a number of ambitious American inventors of voting machines. Lenna Ryland Winslow wrote to the Patent Office that his device would not only count votes, but would also contain a mechanism "automatically set to restrict certain classes of voters by and during their entrance to the booth." In short, the device, which was finally patented in 1910, would ensure that women would not be able to vote beyond what state law allowed them. By 1920, however, times had changed; regular voters thereafter included both women and men. Text adapted from “The Technology of Unequal Rights for Women: Patent Drawings of a Voting Machine” in the April 2008 National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) publication Social Education.
This primary source comes from the Records of the Patent and Trademark Office.
National Archives Identifier: 5813569Full Citation: Drawing of a Voting Machine; 8/10/1910; Records of the Patent and Trademark Office, Record Group 241. [Online Version, https://www.docsteach.org/documents/document/drawing-of-a-voting-machine, March 26, 2017]
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