Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Old School Midterm Election


This is how democracy used to work in small-town America – tamper-proof paper ballots marked in the privacy of a voting booth.

There are photos I shot on Nov. 1, 1966 during the mid-term election at Tipton, Ind.

I was in my first newspaper job, working as a reporter for the Tipton Tribune, a six-day-a-week daily serving Tipton County, north of Indianapolis.


There was never a discussion about photo IDs because that technology was years in the future. Besides, in a place like Tipton, everyone was a registered voter and everyone knew everyone else.


When you finished marking your ballot, you folded it and handed it to the man who put it into the ballot box that was probably used for voting since Woodrow Wilson or before.


After the polls closed, the county clerk and his deputies, along with party officials and the press, sat around in the clerk’s office waiting for the poll workers to count the votes and bring it the ballots and their tallies. That’s Hamilton Rigg, my editor, with his back to the camera.


Here’s “Ham” Rigg totaling up the votes on an old mechanical adding machine in the Tipton County Clerk’s office. I think it was on the second floor of the County Courthouse, but my memory may be faulty.


A sack of ballots from one of the precincts arrives at the clerk’s office. I love this shot.


One of the clerk’s deputies on the right (I can’t recall her name) goes over the vote tallies with one of the precinct workers.

Counting paper ballots is a time-consuming process and it was late in the evening before the first precincts came in. The final totals weren’t known until well after midnight.

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