Montana State University

Hanging chads, historic ballot boxes displayed in new MSU exhibit

March 7, 2008 -- From MSU News Service

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MSU News Service
Tel: (406) 994-4571
msunews@montana.edu
BOZEMAN -- A public reception will be held at 1 p.m. Thursday, March 27, for a new Montana State University exhibit that contains chads from the 2000 presidential election, historic ballot boxes and a signed speech by President John F. Kennedy.

The exhibit on the history of voting technologies will be in the northwest corner, main floor, of Wilson Hall through the fall semester. Visitors are welcome any time the building is open, generally from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.

The American Computer Museum in Bozeman, with assistance from the Humanities Institute at MSU, organized the "Technology and Democracy" display. The reception is sponsored by the College of Letters and Science.

The exhibit contains a voting machine and ballot box used in Lee County, Fla., during the highly contested election of 2000. Photos show election officials using magnifying glasses to examine punch card ballots and determine if their chads were hanging, swinging or dimpled in favor of George W. Bush or Al Gore. The display also includes wooden ballot boxes from the 19th century and a paper ballot box from the Civil War era. The exhibit shows how the term "blackballed" originated. It displays campaign buttons from current presidential front runners.

"With political memorabilia from important presidential campaigns in the past and reminders that voting in this country has never been just a given, this exhibit invites us to think hard about both who we vote for and how our votes are counted," said Robert W. Rydell, MSU history professor and director of the Humanities Institute at MSU.

Evelyn Boswell, (406) 994-5135 or evelynb@montana.edu