When the machine rolled in the door, it was covered with a remarkably thick layer of soot from the diesel exhaust from various vehicles. The machine had been sitting for a couple decades in a building used for parking the snowmobile trail groomer. It was locked so I was a little afraid that once we actually got it open the interior would be as filthy as the exterior, but it wasn't bad. We had to drill the lock out on the front because I wasn't able to track down a key, but once we got it open I was relieved to see that it apparently closed up tight enough that not much soot got in.
Opening the machine helped a bit with dating when it was last used, too. The labels for the political parties were still on the handles on one side. Those labels include the Tisch Independent Party. The Tisch Independent Party is a Michigan phenomenon. Bob Tisch founded the party in 1982; on the 1984 ballot he's the only candidate from that party running for anything. He apparently managed to recruit some acolytes because the party is still around, but is now known in Michigan as the U.S. Taxpayers Party. On a national level, they're affiliated with the Constitution Party. Which I guess is where the Tea Party types hang out who think the Republican Party today is much too liberal.
So, besides the voting machine, what else do I have to play with for the exhibit? Instructional ballots from various elections. Poll books. Bumper stickers. Campaign buttons. Unused actual ballots from some early elections, like one from 1894. Brochures. A flyswatter some candidate handed out 30 or 40 years ago. A Bush-Quayle yard sign. A Dennis Kucinich tee-shirt. I've got plenty of material; the one thing I'm lacking is space. I'd love to put a mannequin in period costume behind a table with some poll books in front of him (we've got some from 1916) but don't think there's quite enough open square footage. Can't win them all.
I am thinking about setting out some empty milk bottles with candidates' names on them with a suggestion visitors vote for the person they think will win the Presidential election. I'm not sure I should, though. I fear that when we're only going to be open two days a week (not enough bodies able to volunteer) this coming summer there'd be so few people voting that seeing just two or three pennies in the bottom of a bottle would be too depressing -- especially if the handful of coins were all in the Trump jar. .