Ariz. man owns 1 million Mandela ballots


by Jared Dillingham

Bio | Email | Follow: @JaredDillingham

Posted on December 6, 2013 at 9:53 AM

Updated Tuesday, Dec 10 at 1:14 PM

CAVE CREEK, Ariz.-- More than 1 million unused ballots from Nelson Mandela's historic presidential election are in the hands of an Arizona man.

Norris Barker, of Cave Creek, said he and other investors purchased the ballots at a government auction in South Africa after the election nearly 20 years ago.

"It struck me," Barker said. "They're important. I love Mandela."

Barker met Mandela in 1990, four years before the election. Barker was working as a teacher in South Africa.

He was having car trouble and pulled over in an area where Mandela happened to be speaking.

Barker asked a security guard if Mandela could sign his United States-issued passport, but Mandela himself called Barker over to chat.

"He was so charismatic," Barker recalled.

This fall, the Cave Creek man donated some of the ballots to people who attended the unveiling of the first Mandela statue in the United States.

He said guests at the South African Embassy were touched by the symbol of Mandela's rise from revolutionary to statesman.

Barker has also been selling the ballots for years on his website, Prices have ranged from $50 to $200.

Barker hopes to use the proceeds to build a memorial for his hero.