Voting Machine Restoration Project

A voting machine used in the election of 1901 in North Kingstown is now part of the library's local history collection. Tim Cranston, the town's unofficial historian, discovered the machine in the vault at Town Hall; and the Town Council donated it to the library.

The machine is of particular interest to North Kingstown and to the library because the paper ballots are still intact on the front of the machine. In the 1901 election, William Gregory was the winning candidate for Governor of Rhode Island. William Gregory not only lived in North Kingstown, but was also the first Chairman of the North Kingstown Free Library Board of Trustees. Library Director Susan Aylward received a $4,000 grant from the Rhode Island Foundation to help fund the restoration of the machine and a series of programs (held in 2004) related to the history of voting in Rhode Island.

The restoration project was led by conservator Bruce Mason of Barrington. The paper components were removed and sent to Northeast Documents Conservation Center for conservation and restoration. Mr. Mason's research indicates that we have a McTammany voting machine. John McTammany is a Scottish born inventor who is best known for his pioneering work in the development of automatic pianos. He was granted at least eighteen patents by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for voting and related machines. His voting machines, like the automatic pianos, use the punched paper method to record the vote.