By Town Clerk Tara Wick and Deborah Anderson, Express staff
Residents of Plympton had an opportunity on Tuesday to use their old “Perfection Ballot Box” made in Worcester in 1927 to cast their vote on Tuesday at the Commonwealth’s Primary Election.
Tuesday morning, the box was wheeled out by the police officer on duty and inspected by all Election officials just prior to the polls opening for the day.
Each paper ballot, folded in half lengthwise, was fed into the throat of the machine, overseen by the Plympton Election Warden, who for Tuesday’s Primary was retired Town Clerk Nancy Butler. She turned the wooden handled brass crank, which delivered the ballot into the locked box, advanced the number dial one place and rang the bell to indicate that the vote has been cast and counted. She plans to make a return appearance for the November 4 state election.
The residents of Plympton often look forward to hearing the sound of the bell tone once they have cast their ballot. One of the warden’s primary functions is to be sure that the ballot is inserted properly where it then advances through the top portion and drops into the bottom portion of the box where it is kept safely and securely under guard until it is removed and counted after the polls close.
The warden often takes this opportunity to point out to children how important it is to vote and to show what number ballot their parents have contributed to a final tally.
The bottom cabinet on which the ballot box sits was built and added by a resident in 1957.
How do you fix a broken ballot box? You call your friendly horologist, otherwise known as a clock maker. Plympton calls Richard Ketchen, from the Massachusetts town of Carlisle. He is very familiar with the ballot box as he has been commissioned by other “hand cranking” ballot towns throughout the state for repairs and service of similar boxes. Mr. Ketchen carefully restored Plympton’s ballot box in 2012, including reattaching loose paper numbers, sharpening anti-withdrawal tabs, replaced broken front deflector, evened out worn drive rollers, oiled all mechanisms, and lubricated locks with graphite.
Despite the age of the box, all components live up to it’s namesake and all parts are in “Perfect” working order.