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From the Archives: 1928 voting machines used in Los Angeles County election

Oct. 2, 1928: Los Angeles County Registrar William Kerr demonstrates the use of a voting machine.
(Los Angeles Times)

In October 1928, Los Angeles County obtained 50 new voting machines for use in the Nov. 6, 1928, presidential election. One machine was assembled and shown to the media.

The above photo accompanied this short story in the Oct. 3, 1928, Los Angeles Times:

Assembly of the first of fifty voting machines recently purchased by Los Angeles County was completed yesterday by workers in the registrar’s department and given its initial tests, which proved satisfactory, according to Registrar (William) Kerr. The remaining forty-nine will be put in readiness immediately for use in the general election November 6.

Results of the test of these machines, which will be distributed equally among the five Supervisorial districts, will determine whether the county will purchase them in quantities and place them in use in all precincts, it was said.

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In addition to making the duty of voting somewhat lighter for voters, the machine saves considerable time in compilation of returns, as it mechanically records the numbers of votes for each candidate or measure as the votes are cast.

Instructions from the Registrar’s office will be placed at each precinct where machines are located on election day and supply necessary information to voters using them.

In the 1928 presidential election, the 50 voting machines were used in 31 precincts. The Times reported the next day that “the complete returns from the thirty-one precincts were received before 9 p.m. for the first time in the history of Los Angeles County voting.”

The same story reported that 1,000 of these machines were used in San Francisco. A story in the Oct. 22, 1929, Los Angeles Times reported, “The Board of Supervisors voted yesterday to purchase 100 new voting machines.”

In the Nov. 4, 1930, election, The Times reported that 147 voting machines were used. Still, in the 1932 presidential election, most votes were cast on paper ballots.

Oct. 2, 1928: Los Angeles County Registrar William Kerr shows how to use a new vote-recording device.
(Los Angeles Times)
Oct. 2, 1928: From left, D.H. Bunker, E.R. Walker and Al Smith look over a miniature dummy voting machine used to educate voters on use of the full-size versions.
(Los Angeles Times)
Nov. 6, 1928: For over 50 years, Melville Norton used a paper ballot, but for this election, he voted in a new voting machine. By pulling the handle, he closes the curtain. This photo appeared in the Nov. 7, 1928, Los Angeles Times.
(Los Angeles Times)

See more from the Los Angeles Times archives here


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