The very first official ballot box arrived in Grand County in 1896. Utah was a new state and Utahans, especially those in Grand County, were eager to exercise their right to vote. In January 1896, Utah became a state and eligible to vote for the first time in the national election.
Women’s Suffrage had already happened in the Utah territory by that time. Voting rights were written in the state’s constitution which was ratified in November of 1895. In fact, the only people in Utah who weren’t allowed to vote were Native Americans who had not given up their tribal affiliations and anyone under the age of 21. By contrast, the rest of the nation was still fighting over the rights of those who were not a white male that owned property. An issue that wouldn’t be settled until years later.
The draft ballots were printed in the papers several weeks in a row in advance of the election as were opinion pieces and articles on all the candidates for office. An article in the Grand Valley Times talks about what a somber event this first official federal election was:“A more orderly election never occurred anywhere than did the election this week in Moab. The citizens went quietly to the polls deliberately marked their ballots for their choice for the offices and went home.” Grand Valley Times, The County Elections, 11/6/1896.
That first election didn’t go as Utah and Grand wished nationally, but everyone seemed satisfied with the local results.
A bit further down in that same article:
However unsatisfactory national results may be to us, how much we may feel that the western people as a whole may be handicapped, there is one selfevident truth, that it is in our own energy that our future prosperity, in the greater measure, dedends [sic]. This section of the county is better prepared to be independent of national affairs than most places.” Grand Valley Times, The County Elections, 11/6/1896
Stop by the Museum of Moab to see that first ballot box on display. But be warned, do not drop this year’s ballot in the box! The key has been lost and your vote will not be counted.
The Museum of Moab is the center for cultural and natural history of eastern Utah and the Moab area. The exhibits include everything from a Jurassic dinosaur found just outside Moab to artifacts of the earliest human inhabitants of the region. Enjoy displays of pioneer settlement and mining equipment alongside geologist Charlie Steen’s bronzed boots and props from several movies filmed here.
Join us Saturday, November 11, 5-9pm for the Art Walk featuring Kelly Pugh.
Kelly Pugh a local artist from Blanding, Utah has been creating realistic, detailed, and beautiful artwork as a full-time artist for more than 25 years. After obtaining a Master’s of Fine Art from SUU he opened his own art gallery and has been painting ever since. Kelly currently lives with his wife Sheri and 5 children in Blanding, where he is the owner of Ridgeway Art Gallery. Kelly enjoys bringing the world home to you and hope you will enjoy his work as much as so many have before.
Also, please come by Saturday, December 2 before the Light Parade for a hot beverage and to browse our one-of-a-kind gifts in our Gift Shop.
See our website at www.moabmuseum.org for information on our exhibits, tours, and programming.