Thursday, October 29, 2009

Voting Still Life No.2: 1894 Edition

Ah, the difference between voting today and voting 115 years ago. This is my great-great grandfather's poll book from 1894-- he was an election official, and had the tedious task of tallying up the votes. I imagine he used a fountain pen, but hey, I had to work with what I had available! Among the changes since my great-great grandfather's day: we've broadened the spectrum of eligible voters. Here is an interesting paragraph in the poll book titled "Qualification of Electors."

"State Constitution. Article VI., Section I. All male persons of the age of twenty-one years or over, possessing the following qualifications, shall be entitled to vote at all election: They shall be citizens of the United States; they shall have lived in the state one year, and in the county ninety days, and in the city, town, ward or precinct thirty days immediately preceding the election at which they offer to vote. Provided, that Indians, not taxed, shall never be allowed the elective franchise. Provided, further, that all male persons who, at the time of the adoption of this Constitution, are qualified electors of the Territory, shall be electors."

I am happy to say that the state of Washington allows 18-year-olds, Indians, and--gasp!--even women to vote these days.

Besides allowable voters, another interesting historical change is that this poll book is from New Whatcom. New Whatcom is one of the four towns (Fairhaven, Bellingham, New Whatcom, and Sehome) that eventually merged and together took the name of Bellingham.

Click here for a more complete history of Bellingham.


  1. Such an interesting post, LV. Perfect in b&w. New Whatcom sounds so modern, something internet-ish.

  2. Very enlightening glimpse into our collective past. So very glad these rules are not in place still today.