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The Mystery of the Bathroom Ballots

The Mystery of the Bathroom Ballots

by Rachel Ehnert, Communications Director for Weld County

Throughout its one hundred years of existence, the Weld County Courthouse has seen some of the most important historical happenings in the history of the United States. This structure has stood throughout the Great Depression, the Dust Bowl, the flight of Amelia Earhart, the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the Moon Landing, the assassination of John F. Kennedy, the Gulf War, and more recently, the rise of the internet and the election of the first African American President.

Recently, evidence of this lengthy history was recovered from within the floors of the courthouse, in a very strange location and under very strange circumstances.

In 2017, a leak in the 4th floor bathroom was discovered, and crews were called to find and repair said leak. In order to do so, these crews had to open up the third floor ceiling and the flooring of the fourth floor. They went in expecting to see a leaking pipe, some water damage, dust and maybe a few dead bugs. What they discovered nobody expected to see.

When crews opened the void between floors, under a bathroom, they found a box of a dozen or so ballots, both Republican and Democratic tickets, for the preliminary election of 1956. The ballots were organized by township they were to be sent to and were completely untouched—some were still in sealed envelopes, which remain unopened to this day. Those ballots lived under the fourth floor bathroom for over sixty years, with nobody knowing how or why they got there in the first place.

The preliminary election of 1956 wasn’t particularly noteworthy—Adlai Stevenson was chosen as the Democratic nominee and Dwight D. Eisenhower as the Republican. This was Stevenson’s second presidential nomination, however he would go on to lose the election to Eisenhower, the obvious favorite, who would become the 34th President of the United States.

As for the other names on these ballots, Edwin C. Johnson would be chosen as Governor, John A. Carroll would be chosen as a Senator, and Byron L. Johnson was chosen as a Representative. Perhaps the most noteworthy aspect of this election is the fact that the state (and nation) leaned Republican in terms of the Presidential nominees, and Democratic for the lesser offices.

Why, then, would these preliminary ballots be stowed away, under the bathroom on the fourth floor of the courthouse? What was it about this election that made someone want to hide ballots? Or, if the ballots weren’t hidden, what was it about this election that caused a box of ballots to be placed in the space between floors?
What are your theories regarding the mystery of the box of ballots found under the bathroom?