Bryan Pfaffenberger, a University of Virginia professor, will discuss the lever voting machine and the Automatic Voting Machine Company's role in the history of lever voting machines at 7 p.m. on March 8 at the Robert H. Jackson Center.
Pfaffenberger recounts the forgotten history of the lever voting machine, a history in which Jamestown played a role through Automatic Voting Machine. Pfaffenberger's research traces the lever machine's origins not just to the fight against election fraud in the late 1880s, but also to the social injustices brought about by America's rapid shift to the Australian paper ballot, an election system that made voting difficult for millions of immigrant voters, failed to record the votes of thousands who visited the polls and enabled corrupt election officials to commit fraud with impunity.
With production shifting to Jamestown by the turn of the 20th century and millions of women entering the polling place for the first time, the nation's top voting machine inventors collaborated to produce a reliable machine. Pfaffenberger's lecture follows the lever machine as it puts an end to Tammany Hall and goes on to bring fair and trouble-free elections to nearly two-thirds of America's voters.
The lecture concludes by surveying the decline of the lever machine at the hands of inexpensive, punch-card technologies, but goes on to describe the Florida 2000 debacle, in which the failure of punch-card technology brought America to the brink of a constitutional crisis.