Friday, March 7, 2014

Anyone know any corrupt election board officials?

I have a voting machine I need to break into.

First, though, I need to clean off a remarkably thick layer of diesel oil smut. The machine was donated to the museum yesterday. It came, if I've got the provenance straight, from L'Anse Township, although I could be wrong. It could also have been the Village. I need to do a little more research before formally accessioning it.

In any case, it's been stored for quite a few years in the same building the local tourist and recreation association uses for housing the snowmobile trail groomer. It's been exposed to a lot of diesel fumes. When the guys first wheeled it in yesterday, I thought it was black. After I started cleaning the device I discovered it's actually a pale gray color on the top part and a darker color on the bottom. The black was just built-up diesel smoke. I stopped cleaning after going through half a roll of paper towels -- I'll bring in a bag of rags from home to finish it rather than burn through our paper towel allotment for the year. As far as I can tell, the machine has been closed up tight enough that there isn't too much dirt on the inside, but so far all I've been able to see is a compartment at the top in the back. That part doesn't lock; it flips open so you can get at the storage space for the crank that raises and lowers the machine.

I cranked it up to confirm that the main lock, the one on the front, was indeed locked. It was. So are the other locks. It's still got the seal on it from the last time it was used in an election, which is kind of neat. It's also kind of a nuisance. The key to the machine and the machine itself apparently parted company over a decade ago. I'm not sure when L'Anse Township switched to using optical scan machines, but I have a vague memory of using one in 2000. We either need to track down a locksmith (aka spend real money) or drill the locks out. I'd rather not destroy the locks if we can avoid it.

I did email the township clerk to ask if he had any keys kicking around the Township Hall that might fit the machine, but that's a really long shot. I'm willing to bet when I get a response email from him, the answer is going to be No.

Once the machine is clean and the snow is gone so we can actually get at our storage building, that's where the machine will go to gather dust for two years. When 2016 rolls around, though, it's going to be a star player in an exhibit on voting, voting rights, and politics. Maybe we'll even dress one our mannequins to match the picture shown above. For now, though, I just want to get it cleaned up, documented, and make sure the curtains don't need repairs.

This donation is, incidentally, one of the fun things about volunteering at a museum. You never know just what's going to come rolling through the front door.


  1. Contact Cyrus Beene or any one at Pope & Associates

  2. I vote; but I am not convinced that voting matters. You have to have an intelligent and informed voter to effect positive change - and I am not sure that the majority fall into those categories.
    the Ol'Buzzard


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