In the age of ballot-box stuffing, the mechanical voting machine promised indisputably accurate election tallies. Sound familiar?
"Plot and plan, scheme and engineer as he may, the crooked ward-heeler cannot discover a way of cheating the machine," PopSci wrote in 1920, urging the widespread adoption of mechanized voting as an antidote to Tammany Hallstyle election fraud. The gear-and-lever voting machine seemed to ensure a fair and scientific tally. Although it had debuted two decades before we featured it on our cover, in 1920 it was used in only 17 states. By the 1960s the machine predominated in U.S. elections.